Wisconsin doctor buys Illinois buildings to offer abortions
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin doctor has purchased two clinical buildings in northern Illinois where he plans to offer abortion pills as early as this week at one location and surgical abortions within six months at the other site.
The move comes after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned federal abortion rights last month. That led abortion providers in Wisconsin to stop the procedures while the courts determine whether the state’s 1849 law banning most abortions stands. Abortion remains legal in Illinois.
Dr. Dennis Christensen says he is part of a group trying to revive abortion services in Rockford, Illinois, in part to accommodate women from Wisconsin. Christensen is an obstetrician-gynecologist who has provided abortions in Madison and Milwaukee and is now mostly retired, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
”The clinics in Illinois are inundated now,” Dr. Christensen said. “Sometimes they can’t get an appointment for two weeks and for some of the patients that two weeks is the difference between being able to have a medical abortion versus the surgical procedure.”
Christensen recently purchased a former acupuncture office for $75,000 and the former Animal Emergency Clinic of Rockford for $350,000, according to the Winnebago County records.
Christensen initially planned to offer medication abortions at the former acupuncture office as soon as Friday, but the City of Rockford condemned the building due to a plumbing issue. On Wednesday he checked on the facility and said plumbing and construction was up to date, but he is waiting on a final inspection from the city. He plans to open the facility early next week.
”We’re waiting on the building,” he said. “As soon as we have the okay for the building if my license has shown up I will find an Illinois doctor that will sign off on our protocol for giving the patients the pills and that’s all it will take.”
After leaving his practice in Rockford 15 years ago, Dr. Christensen let his Illinois medical license expire. He said re-applied and is currently waiting on the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation and Licensing to approve a new license.
”I have plenty of money and I don’t need anymore, he said. “What I do need is the satisfaction of knowing the patients I’ve been taking care of continue to have the care that I and a few other people delivered and I wish to see that they continue to have access to.”
The newly formed Rockford Family Planning Foundation is fundraising and is preparing the second site for surgical abortions, birth control and related care.
“We feel like it’s absolutely essential for us to get open as quickly as possible,” said Jeanne Bissell, the foundation’s president.
The only exception to Wisconsin’s abortion ban involves a risk to the mother’s life. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit last month challenging the old law, arguing that 1980s statutes supersede the ban and that it has been dormant so long it should be unenforceable.
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