ANNAPOLIS -- Maryland Right to Life officials endorsed William S. Shepard, the Republican candidate for governor, yesterday, saying he will do more than Gov. William Donald Schaefer "to save the unborn" and work against abortion.
"Bill's name will head up our endorsement sheet," Joy Ebauer, the Maryland Right to Life president, said at a news conference. The group is Maryland's largest anti-abortion organization.
The group also endorsed Edward L. Blanton Jr., the Republican candidate for attorney general, running against incumbent Democrat J. Joseph Curran Jr. It did not release its endorsements for legislative races. Pat Kelly, the group's legislative lobbyist, said Right to Life lets candidates decide if they want to make such backing public.
Mr. Shepard, who opposes abortion except in limited circumstances, said he is "honored to have this support."
He said he sees the anti-abortion group's backing as part of a growing "coalition of people who are not at all pleased by the current administration." That coalition, he said, in
cludes disgruntled property taxpayers, gun-control opponents and other disaffected Marylanders who oppose Mr. Schaefer's "arrogant rule."
Mr. Shepard -- who would allow abortion in cases of rape or incest, if the life of the woman is at stake or if the fetus has been shown to have "gross genetic defects" -- said he would veto any bill that would keep most abortions legal.
But he added that he favors a referendum vote as the final measure of any abortion bill -- either one that would limit abortions or one that would allow them in most cases.
Groups campaigning to protect the right to abortion, such as the Maryland affiliate of the National Abortion Rights Action League and Choice Pac, have not made formal endorsements in the governor's race. They are concentrating instead on legislative campaigns in an effort to elect enough sympathetic lawmakers to win passage of an abortion-rights bill.
Questioned all summer about his views, the Governor Schaefer refused to give an opinion. After the primary, Mr. Schaefer said that though he personally opposes abortion, as governor he favors allowing women to make their own decisions without government restriction.