The Vote Know Coalition Of Maryland, Inc.

October 18, 1992

The following answers to questions about Maryland'

abortion-law referendum were prepared by the Vote kNOw Coalition of Maryland, a group opposing the law and urging a vote against 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?

Access to abortion will not change; at present there are no restrictions on abortion at any point in pregnancy, and under Question 6 the limitations are vague and backed by no penalties. The primary change is in the laws that govern the environment in which abortion is performed. Question 6 repeals a law against profit-making abortion "counseling" agencies that get kickbacks from abortion clinics. It repeals a law that guaranteed each woman a pamphlet listing sources of support for continuing her pregnancy or planning an adoption. It grants abortion doctors immunity from lawsuits for their decisions not to notify a parent or to perform any abortion, at any time, for any reason. The drafters of the law even attempted to repeal protection for those who, in good conscience, cannot make abortion referrals.

The overall profile of Question 6 is that it has crossed the fine line from pro-choice to pro-abortion. Question 6 promotes abortion, and protects abortion providers, even at the expense of women's right and safety. The effect will be to draw abortion entrepreneurs in trouble elsewhere to Maryland, a state which has gone out of its way to change the law so that abortion is as unregulated and profitable as possible. As other states tighten their laws, Maryland is positioning itself to become the abortion magnet state of the East Coast. A clipping from the New York Times in 1969 shows Maryland doctors worrying that, under the 1968 law, Maryland was becoming an "abortion mill." They ain't seen nothing yet.

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?

The flaw in this statute is that it places the decision not to notify in the hands of the abortion doctor, whereas the Supreme Court envisioned this decision being made by a judge. (In fact, the Bellotti vs. Baird decision states that "It seems unlikely that [the minor] will obtain adequate counsel and support from the attending physician at an abortion clinic.") In a typical abortion clinic setting, the patient does not meet the doctor until she is on the table -- all intake work and counseling is done by other clinic employees. At this point there is simply no way that the doctor can assess the maturity or the best interests of this girl whom he has never met before. Nor is there time for him to notify a parent before the procedure. But the law has no penalties if he fails to notify -- in fact it specifies that he can face no criminal penalties in civil suits for not notifying. This law does not mandate parental notification, it gives doctors legal protection for not notifying parents.

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?

We currently have two laws touching on this area -- one applying only to licensed physicians and one applying to every citizen. In Illinois they had only a law applying to physicians. By 1978 an undercover investigation in Chicago revealed that so-called "abortion counseling" agencies were charging women up to $150 to make abortion appointments, then receiving from abortion clinic management (not the doctors directly) $45 to $60 per customer referred. Counselors were instructed, "We are in the business of selling abortions. . . . Put the question to them as a sure sale. Limit their choices."

Neither the abortion clinic management not the referral agency were agents of the doctor -- "agent" is a legal term with a specific meaning, indicating a person employed by and under the direct control of another. The doctor may be an agent of the clinic, but the clinic is not an agent of the doctor. The referral agencies are self-contained "counseling" businesses, likewise not under the direction of the doctors.

Illinois had to pass a second law in 1980 to close this loophole and put these counseling/kickback operations out of business. It is our version of that second law which Question 6 will repeal, and make these businesses legal.

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