Mayo protest

Anne Wesely, left, and Karen Arvidson protest outside of Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare in March.

More than 10 anti-abortion protesters picketed Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare Wednesday, alleging that a doctor who works there part time does abortions in Rochester, Minn.

“They don’t perform abortions here,” picket spokeswoman Karen Arvidson acknowledged.

But she alleged that a doctor from Mayo Clinic in Rochester who is a consultant for high-risk pregnancies at Mayo-Franciscan does the procedure at the Minnesota facility.

Arvidson said she and her husband, Leif, discovered that when the doctor was treating her for a high-risk pregnancy.

The Arvidsons began leading a group of picketers in front of Mayo-Franciscan along West Avenue on March 5, and they have been doing so daily since then, she said.

Picketers’ posters proclaimed the following messages, “Abortionists work here,” “Is Franciscan Catholic or Pro-Abortion?” and “St. Francis, rebuild our hospital,” among others.

Mayo-Franciscan issued the following statement Wednesday: “We are aware that there are protesters on our La Crosse campus. We are not able to disclose any details about the confidential patient care matter that gave rise to this situation.

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“After a comprehensive review process, including a review of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare, we are confident that the situation is being handled appropriately from all aspects — morally, medically and legally.

“We can assure our employees, our patients and the community that abortions are not being performed at our facilities and never have been,” the statement said. “Providers who practice on our campus follow our policies related to the care of pregnant women and their children.”

The Arvidsons contend that the doctor told them during a 2012 pregnancy that the baby had a marker for Down syndrome and recommended abortion. The baby, Patrick, did not have Down syndrome, although the 18-month-old has experienced some health challenges, she said.

Patrick is doing well, with some developmental delays, said Leif, the executive director of Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in La Crosse.

They want Mayo-Franciscan to sever ties with the doctor, Karen said.

Mayo-Franciscan spokesman Rick Thiesse acknowledged that the Mayo doctor is a consultant in some high-risk cases at Mayo-Franciscan. A representative for Mayo in Rochester did not return calls asking whether the doctor performs abortions there.

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