Challenges to law limited
Not all the notification provisions in Maryland's abortion law can be challenged in a statewide referendum, according to a letter written by an assistant attorney general to the National Abortion Rights Action League.
Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth L. Nilson said she believes the league cannot seek a statewide vote to repeal the notification provisions in the law enacted by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer in February.
The bill has few restrictions for adults but requires that parents of minors be notified before an abortion unless it is determined that notification could lead to abuse, that the minor is mature enough to give informed consent or if the doctor believes it would not be in the minor's best interest.
Ms. Nilson said a referendum challenge could only apply to new conditions in the law. Only the last two provisions in the notification section were added this year.
Bill seeks cancer data
Legislation intended to help doctors and scientists determine why Maryland has the highest cancer death rate in the nation received final approval in the House of Delegates yesterday, 124-4.
The legislation would require Maryland hospitals and laboratories report all newly diagnosed cancer cases to a central registry.
The measure now goes to the Senate, where a committee has approved an identical bill.
Proponents say the more information a registry contains about cancer patients, the greater likelihood there is of determining why certain areas have higher death rates than others.
Seat belt bill passes
The House of Delegates, by a vote of 117 to 11, passed yesterday an administration bill that expands the state's mandatory seat belt law and raises the age of children who must wear a seat belt.
The House version of the bill extends the seat belt requirement to include the driver and front-seat passengers of lighter-weight trucks. It also requires that children under 10 wear seat belts and that all children who weigh less than 40 pounds be restrained in a safety seat or an approved booster seat.
The most controversial part of the bill, a requirement that would have allowed police officers to stop someone simply because that person was not wearing a seat belt, was removed from the bill by the House Judiciary Committee. Currently, motorists can be charged only if they're stopped for some other offense.