Carroll Delegate's Effort To Alter Abortion-rights Bill Loses, 75-55

February 17, 1991|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

ANNAPOLIS — Delegate Donald B. Elliott's attempt to amend an abortion-rights bill by modifying language concerning deformed fetuses was rejected on the House floor Friday.

Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, who opposes abortion, proposed adding one word to the bill that passed the Senate Tuesday unamended.

As of Friday, the bill would allow women to have an abortion until the fetus might be able to survive outside the womb. However, at any time during the pregnancy, an abortion would be allowed if the fetus is affected by "genetic defect or serious deformity or abnormality."

Arguing that the exception was overly broad, Elliott proposed changing the clause to read "serious genetic defect." The amendment wasdefeated, 75-55.

Elliott emphasized that a distinction should be made between genetic defects that are correctable and those that aren't.

"It was an oversight (by abortion-rights legislators)," said Elliott about the amendment, originally offered in a House committee hearing by a colleague. "It should at least depend on whether one can live a functional, productive life with a genetic defect, although I still find it very difficult to accept."

On the House floor, Elliott discussed examples of genetic defects, such as hip dislocations ordwarfism, that don't prevent individuals from functioning and being productive members of society.

Abortion-rights advocates were reluctant to amend the bill last week, fearing it would become bogged down if returned to the Senate. House and Senate abortion opponents haveattempted to attach numerous restrictive provisions to the bill, butnone had been accepted as of Friday.

Abortion-rights advocates say they simply are codifying into Maryland law what has been federal law since 1973.

"We want to make sure abortion is safe and legal inthis state," said Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, an abortion-rights leader. "This bill will do that."

The bill also allows abortions to protect the life or health of the woman.

Inaddition, it requires physicians to notify parents before performingan abortion on an unmarried minor except when the physician determines she is "mature and capable of giving informed consent" or "notification would not be in the best interest of the minor."

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