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Her parents kept taking their little girl for lessons at the community pool in her native Ellsworth, Wisconsin, and Nancy kept looking at the water up to everybody's neck and finding reasons to slip away to the root beer stand. Finally, after countless floats and three failing efforts to pass the beginners course, some deep-down tide turned, and Nancy fell in love with the water.
She spent her summers at the pool, mastering the back and breaststroke, water safety classes, and, in time, the life-saving training program. She worked three happy summers as a local lifeguard.
"No one ever suggested I couldn't do this job because of my size," she says (Nancy is 5' 3"), "and I never doubted that I could."
That confidence would come in handy, in years to come. By then, Nancy had traded her whistle and swimsuit for a stethoscope and scrubs. But to her mind, she was still guarding lives.
And still drawing on some of the lessons she learned in the deep end of the pool.
The road from Ellsworth to Madison wasn't long, and once Nancy traveled it, she rarely looked back. Madison was home to the University of Wisconsin (UW), and on those hallowed grounds she completed her degrees, met her husband-to-be, and, ultimately, found her professional home.
After years of work at hospitals throughout the community, she settled in contentedly seven years ago as one of four full-time anesthesiologists at the Madison Surgery Center (MSC), an outpatient clinic run by a coalition of local medical juggernauts: UW Hospital and Clinics, the UW Medical Foundation, and Meriter Hospital (a private facility near the UW Campus).
Somehow, she still manages to squeeze in time to teach as an assistant clinical professor at the nearby UW medical school. She expresses enormous respect and affection for all those she works with, and great pride in what they accomplish, day by day, in their small corner of the medical world.
"We all work really hard," she says. "We help each other. Everybody is a team player."
The team was just getting a new game plan when Nancy returned from vacation in late autumn 2008. She was called into a meeting with other anesthesiologists and the clinic's medical director, who announced that MSC would soon begin providing late second-trimester abortions.
This week Matt Bowman appeared on Relevant Radio with Shiela Liaugminas to discuss U. of Wisconsin’s illegal funding of abortion. | MP3 audio 17:38 mins