ANNAPOLIS — Two Carroll lawmakers will be pivotal participants on opposite sidesof the battle over abortion this week as legislators prepare to tackle the controversial and emotional issue.
Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, is one of two primary sponsors of two abortion-rights bills to be introduced in the House of Delegates. Opposing him will be Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, one of a host of senators co-sponsoring two Senate bills restricting abortions.
The House and Senate will conduct a joint hearing from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday in the Legislative Services Building to hear testimony on a handful of abortion bills.
Abortion-rights advocates from acrossthe state will convene at the Naval Academy stadium at 6 p.m. tomorrow for a march to the State House, followed by a rally. Abortion opponents sponsored a similar rally Jan. 14.
LaMotte, along with Delegate Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, D-Baltimore City, is sponsoring one bill that would be a "clean codification" of the Supreme Court's 1973Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion without restrictions.Another bill the pair is sponsoring will mandate that minors having abortions receive counseling.
Abortion-rights senators also have introduced two other bills -- one guaranteeing wide access to abortions and another requiring physicians to notify parents of abortions on unmarried minors except under certain circumstances.
The latter proposal is less restrictive than a bill proposed by anti-abortion legislators that would prevent physicians from performing abortions on "unemancipated minors" without consent from a parent or guardian.
Haines is co-sponsoring one bill that would prohibit abortions as a means of birth control or sex selection, allowing the procedure only in the cases of rape or incest, when the mother's life is endangered or when a physician deems the child would be severely deformed. He also is co-sponsoring the bill requiring consent from parents or guardians.
Both Carroll legislators say it's hard to predict what will happen once the House and Senate committees begin deliberating, compromising, amending and combining. Haines said the anti-abortion legislators probably will push for amendments to the abortion-rights bills because they don't have the votes to pass outright restrictive legislation.
LaMotte said abortion-rights legislators "will try to have the House and Senate agree" on a single proposal to reach the floor.
"We don't want the opportunity for two filibusters, but if we can't agree, we can't agree," he said.
Last year, 16 anti-abortion senators successfully prevented abortion-rights legislation from passing by a filibuster -- prolonging debate to keep a bill from coming up for a vote. After eight days, compromise legislation was created and approved by the Senate, but rejected by a House committee.
At least 16senators -- or more than one-third of the 47-member body -- must dissent to prevent a bill from coming up for a vote.
Haines said he believes 16 senators are abortion opponents, but said he didn't know if all those would support prolonged debate.