Doctor who volunteers at women’s clinic advocates for sanctity of life

By Benjamin Wideman | For The Compass | October 15, 2014

‘It’s OK to run around waving the flag of life,’ says Leach

MANITOWOC — Dr. Bill Leach always wanted to serve as a volunteer medical director for a center offering pregnancy support services.

Dr. Bill Leach, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc, serves as medical director of The Crossing Medical Clinic, which offers free pregnancy support services, counseling and education. “Here at The Crossing ... we advocate for the sanctity of life,” he said. (Benjamin Wideman | For The Compass)
Dr. Bill Leach, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc, serves as medical director of The Crossing Medical Clinic, which offers free pregnancy support services, counseling and education. “Here at The Crossing … we advocate for the sanctity of life,” he said. (Benjamin Wideman | For The Compass)

So when he was approached to fill that role at The Crossing Medical Clinic, he didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“Really, from the very beginning it was a perfect fit,” said Leach, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Holy Family Memorial in Manitowoc for the past four years, who has served as medical director for The Crossing since it opened two years ago.

“We feel strongly that it’s OK to run around waving the flag of life,” he added, “but The Crossing actually does something about it. We educate women about healthy families and healthy relationships and about how to take care of their babies. And the staff at The Crossing provide real people to support them and to go through this process with them.

“They’re not just saying, ‘Don’t get an abortion.’ They’re saying, ‘OK, here’s how we’re going to help you now that you’ve made that decision.’ It’s not just about having the belief, it’s about how they back it up, too. And I think that’s really the most important part.”

The Crossing Medical Clinic is located inside the Holy Family Memorial-York Street Campus building, 600 York St. The clinic is affiliated with The Crossing of Manitowoc County (located at 814 Washington St., Manitowoc), a non-profit, Christian-based organization that opened in 2006 and offers free pregnancy support services, counseling and education.

Leach was asked to join The Crossing by Stacy Hass, a colleague and registered nurse at Holy Family Memorial, and Sue Tomasik, the executive director at The Crossing.

“We knew he’d be a great fit,” said Hass, who performs the ultrasounds at The Crossing Medical Clinic. “He’s got the background and all his experience. When we knew we needed somebody, we knew an OB/GYN would be a good fit. And he was the right one for us. He’s got his head on his shoulders, patients love him and he’s well respected in the community. And that’s really what you need here.”

Leach said his duties at the clinic are to oversee any medical services that are provided (primarily ultrasound), and if there are any policies they need to work on, he ensures they’re medically sound.

The clinic is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, and Leach helps out whenever needed.

Before moving to Manitowoc, Leach practiced in Milwaukee. But 14-hour workdays and also being on-call at night convinced the married father of three sons that it was time to perhaps find another place to work.

“I moved up to Manitowoc basically to improve my lifestyle,” he said. “Here, there’s a focus on spending time with your family and helping the community, and we like that.”

He has delivered about 2,000 babies during his career, but said he has also seen the other side of pregnancy decisions.

“In my career, I’ve known many patients who’ve made the decision to end their pregnancy,” Leach said. “And I’ve seen how it can affect their lives downstream in ways they didn’t predict. One of the things I saw the most was a very high regret rate and almost a sense of mourning that happens down the line.

“If I can help somebody to think about what all the options are in a difficult situation, then that’s really what this is about here,” he said, “because I’m not convinced that in every setting patients are given all the options.”

Leach noted that if he had an abortion-vulnerable patient, “I would definitely refer them to The Crossing … at least tell them there are things they can do at The Crossing to get help.”

Leach said he can see himself staying at The Crossing for a long time because he enjoys helping the community and assisting women.

“Here at The Crossing, the key is that we advocate for the sanctity of life … and help them through the pregnancy,” he said. “We’re not just picketing and leaving it at that. We go into a deeper level of helping people. And I’m happy to be a part of what we’re doing here at The Crossing.”

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