Activists on both sides of the abortion issue in Maryland found reason for encouragement in Monday's federal court decision in Pennsylvania allowing restrictions on abortion.
Opponents of abortion took the ruling as more evidence that the momentum in the fight is shifting dramatically to their side. Supporters of Maryland's new abortion law, set to be tested in a November 1992 referendum, said the ruling would prompt people who have never been active on the issue to join the campaign to keep abortion legal.
"It's going to add an urgency to those who believe in the right to choose," said James Guest, head of the Campaign to Save the Right to Choose, a group organized to defend the state abortion law at the polls next year.
"People who haven't been involved before are going to see a threat to their wives, their sisters, their friends. It's bringing it home in a very personal way."
But Pat Kelly, an anti-abortion lobbyist for the Maryland Catholic Conference, said the upholding of the Pennsylvania laws -- considered the most restrictive in the country when they were passed in 1988 and 1989 -- only helps Marylanders understand that limits on abortion are desirable.
The Maryland law, which was approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer in February, is far less restrictive than Pennsylvania's. The law, barred from taking effect by the referendum campaign, would allow abortion until the fetus might be able to survive outside the womb. Later in pregnancy, it would be allowed only to protect the woman's life or health, or if the fetus was known to be deformed.
Delegate Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, D-Baltimore, who supports abortion rights, said he hopes the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the abortion issue this term "so that when voters go to the polls in Maryland, there won't be any more speculation about where the Reagan court is taking the country."