James Guest, president of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, laments the amount of money that will be spent on a drive to defeat the state's new abortion law, once abortion opponents succeed in gathering enough signatures to place the law on the ballot in November 1992. In a time of scarce resources it is regrettable that each side of this debate will probably spend more than a million dollars to carry its case to the electorate.
Yet a referendum can be worth the money, and especially so in this case. By giving each voter a say, it may bring the state as close to a conclusion of the abortion controversy as it can get. In the years during which abortion has been a major public issue, it has become abundantly clear there is no possibility of compromise between those who believe that a woman should be able to abort a pregnancy in its early stages and those who believe that such an act is murder. If compromise is impossible, it seems that the best recourse is for the issue to be settled by majority rule -- something best done by referendum.
Opponents of the law are now well on the way to gathering enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot, and we're confident they will reach that goal. We're less confident they will succeed in their larger aims. We suspect the majority of Marylanders support the new law -- and that taking one more look at the issue will convince them, once again, that outlawing abortion is the wrong answer to questions raised by reproductive freedom.