Del. Martha S. Klima, a strong anti-abortion advocate, has resigned from the board of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, which allows abortions.
Klima, R-Balto. Co., cited three reasons for her action -- the increasing time demands of her legislative position; the possible perception of a conflict of interest between her role on the board and her state duties in reviewing expenditures for hospitals and health care in Maryland; and the conflict between her own anti-abortion views and GBMC's policy, which allows abortions.
Klima notified GBMC of her resignation in a letter Oct. 14. She had been a board member for five years.
Klima said she resigned after increasing publicity about abortions at the Towson hospital, starting with an incident last summer in which a nurse allegedly seeking work at GBMC allegedly was told she would be required to help in abortions regardless of her beliefs if she worked in the labor and delivery wards there. After the nurse's story began circulating, a group of abortion opponents began regular weekly demonstrations July 31 at GBMC's North Charles Street entrance.
Those demonstrations, Klima said, made her examine GBMC's policies more closely and contributed to her decision to resign. She said the demonstrators "never bothered to call me or pressure me." But, "their activity brought a realization to inquire more about hospital policies. It was time to pull back," she said.
Hospital spokeswoman Vivienne Stearns-Elliott said the original story about the nurse is false in that she did not actually apply for a job, but merely inquired about hospital policies on the affected wards.
"She was not turned down for a job," Stearns-Elliott said. "We would never force anyone to do anything they have a moral problem with.
"We don't take a position on abortion. We provide a health service, which is legal. . . . We don't define ourselves in terms of the choice issue," she said, explaining that GBMC has a special mission to serve women based on its formation in 1965 by the merger of the Women's Hospital of Maryland and the old Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat hospital.
Stearns-Elliott said that GBMC is "deeply saddened" by Klima's resignation, and that she had been a "very strong" board member.