For Choice 8 By Auth: Bert Booth, Treasurer


October 18, 1992

The following answers to questions about Maryland'

abortion-law referendum were prepared by Maryland for Choice, group supporting the law and urging a vote for the referendum. The answers are being presented without editorial changes.

1. What will the impact on Maryland citizens be if the new abortion law is approved by the voters at referendum on Nov. 3?

The passage of Question 6 will essentially maintain the status quo in Maryland. It keeps government from interfering in a woman's abortion decision before the fetus is viable. After the point of viability, abortion would only be allowed under extreme medical circumstances.

Two changes that the law will make are that it will add a parental notification clause and it will authorize the state Department of Health to adopt health and safety regulations that aren't currently in place. The parental notification clause of the new law would require that a physician notify a parent or guardian of an unmarried minor seeking an abortion. Section 20-209 (C) of the new law authorizes the state department of health to adopt regulations to protect patients wherever necessary.

2. The new law would require doctors to notify the parents of a minor before she has an abortion -- unless the doctor decides the girl is "mature and capable of giving informed consent" or that notifying the girl's parents "would not be in the best interest of the minor." What would the effect be of this provision?

If Question 6 passes, Maryland will have an enforceable parental notification law for the first time in 20 years. The exceptions to that notification are necessary in order for the statute to meet constitutional muster. Supreme Court rulings have consistently maintained that a minor's maturity and best interests must be considered in order for a parental involvement law to be adopted.

Opponents of Question 6 say that a judge should be the person to make the decision on whether to bypass notification. But, at closer examination, the physician's bypass avoids three dangerous pitfalls of the judicial bypass.

A physician's bypass treats a minor like a patient. A judicial bypass treats a minor like a criminal.

A physician's bypass allows for a timely bypass to safeguard a minor's health. A judicial bypass can take weeks, delaying the procedure and endangering a minor's health.

A physician's bypass protects the minor's confidentiality. A judicial bypass risks the minor's confidentiality by involving, lawyers, clerks, judges, etc.

Parental notification with a physician's bypass is a law that strikes a balance between the interests of parents and the health and well-being of minors.

3. The new law would repeal a ban on for-profit abortion-referral businesses. The Maryland attorney general says such businesses would remain illegal because they are banned by other health laws. What do you think the effect would be if the ban on for-profit abortion referral services is repealed?

The abortion-referral or kickback issue raised by opponents of Question 6 is nothing more than a scare tactic designed to frighten voters. The Maryland attorney general is right, such businesses will remain illegal. The only way to keep such unscrupulous practices from resurfacing is to make sure that women continue to have access to abortion services. Yet, opponents of Question 6 continue to make reckless charges against physicians, teachers and guidance counselors.

First, opponents of Question 6 said that the physicians would pay kickbacks for abortion referral under Maryland's new law. When it was pointed out that such practices are prohibited under a separate laws, they moved on to their next victim.

Next, opponents of Question 6 went after school teachers. They said that teachers would accept kickbacks for referring students for abortions. Teachers were rightfully outraged. The Maryland State Teachers Association released a statement condemning this "teacher bashing" and outlining their code of ethics which forbids accepting any private fees.

Foiled in their first two attempts to malign Maryland doctors and teachers, opponents of Question 6 took aim at Maryland guidance counselors. The Maryland Guidance and Development Association also released their guidelines that strictly prohibit such unethical behavior. Yet, at this writing, opponents of Question 6 continue to make these ridiculous charges.

Opponents of Question 6 should have the courage of their convictions and tell voters that they are "pro-life" and believe that abortion should be a criminal act, instead of running a campaign of red herrings and scare tactics.

4. The new law would allow abortion without government interference until the time in pregnancy when the fetus might be able to survive outside the womb. Later in pregnancy, abortion would be allowed only to "protect the life or health of the woman" or if the fetus is found to have a genetic defect or has a serious deformity or abnormality. What effect would the new law have?

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