MADISON - A surgery center in downtown Madison will not offer late-term abortions as planned.

University of Wisconsin Hospital, the UW Medical Foundation, and Meriter Hospital had approved plans last year to provide second-trimester abortions at the Madison Surgery Center. But yesterday, the groups backed off. They said the "open and multi-purpose nature" of the surgery center would make it hard to guarantee the safety of patients.

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Abortion opponents fought the plan, which was developed after Madison doctor Dennis Christensen - who used to perform late-term abortions on a private basis - retired two years ago. Anti-Abortion groups had circulated a letter from the state Justice Department in May which indicated that the UW abortions were scrapped. But the system says it remains committed to providing the procedure eventually.