GREEN BAY - After decades of anti-abortion protests outside a clinic in Green Bay, the final push may be this weekend.
FOX 11 On Special Assignment broke the story that according to federal court documents, Bellin Health is buying OB/GYN Associates, the only medical practice that currently offers abortion services in Green Bay. And with that buyout, Bellin would stop the abortions.
Driving down South Webster in Green Bay on any given Saturday morning, chances are you've seen those with signs and rosary beads taking a stand against abortion. Their last stand out in front of the Medical Arts Building where OB/Gyn Associates offers abortion services could come Saturday with the unofficial word abortions will end next Wednesday.
"Will that put an end to your presence out here?" FOX 11's Mark Leland asked Jim Ball, an anti-abortion protester with the group "40 Days for Life."
"Well that will certainly be an end to our official presence as 40 Days for Life as long as that's the case, because the battle that's being fought out here is between principalities and powers not between flesh and blood," said Ball.
Federal court documents obtained by FOX 11 include statements filed by Doctor Robert DeMott, an owner of OB/GYN Associates, where he reveals he sold the practice to Bellin Health Systems and will become an employee of Bellin effective August 1st. DeMott also states as a condition of employment he may not provide abortion services to any patient. DeMott also indicates under penalty of perjury he is the only physician in Green Bay currently providing abortion services.
Bellin Health officials still aren't talking, standing by their original statement to me saying they cannot verify or provide comments on potential or existing business negotiations. You'll note the statement does not deny a deal is being made or has already been worked out.
Anticipating an end to abortions in Green Bay next Wednesday, anti-abortion protesters say they are inviting all their supporters to join in a vigil in front of the Medical Arts Building this Saturday morning.
For those seeking an abortion, few options remain in Wisconsin.
Of the five abortion clinics in the state, Green Bay's clinic will no longer be available starting August 1st. Two others, the one in Grand Chute run by Planned Parenthood and one in Milwaukee operated by Affiliated Medical Services are in jeopardy of closing if the state's new restrictive abortion law is upheld. That would leave Planned Parenthood clinics in Milwaukee and Madison to offer abortion services.
"So it is already very limited for women especially women who live in a community live Green Bay," said Planned Parenthood's Nicole Safar. "We know when women don't have access to safe abortions overall their healthcare suffers."
Planned Parenthood expects patient numbers to increase at its remaining abortion clinics. But its main focus is on Planned Parenthood's twenty health centers across the state like one in Ashwaubenon, offering birth control, emergency contraception known as the day after pill, and pregnancy tests.
"Ninety-seven percent of that is preventative family health care and we kind of have our hands full with that," said Safar.
And according to medical consultant Jeff Mason, who helped in the start up of Aurora BayCare Medical Center, don't expect any other medical practice to take over abortion services. He says it's not worth it.
"Whenever you get into topics like that, like euthanasia they are sensitive topics with a lot of strong emotion on either side and it's really not good business to pursue," said Mason.
Bellin Health indicates it will answer our questions about its business practices August 1st.
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