Counselors group explains stance on Question 6

October 21, 1992|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

A new group called Concerned Counselors Against Question 6 gathered behind the Carroll County Office Building yesterday to explain why they oppose the proposed change in Maryland's abortion law.

"We are not entering into the political debate about abortion," said Mary Lynn Ziegler, a social worker and member of the group. "We are simply asking the question, 'Is Question 6 a good law for Maryland?' "

They decided it is not a good law they said, because it would limit options for a woman with a problem pregnancy and would not require a pregnant minor to inform her parents before she seeks an abortion.

Connie Hoge, a member of the Vote kNOw Coalition, organized the event on behalf of the group, which says it has both pro-choice and anti-abortion members.

Four members of the statewide organization of counseling professionals said the proposed law adversely affects women's health by, among other things, repealing a current law that gives pregnant women information about alternatives to abortion.

"The most hard-hearted aspect of Question 6 is the section that takes away a woman's right to be told of all her options," said Phyllis Lee, director of Bethany Christian Services, which deals with women in crisis situations.

"Presently, abortion clinics are supposed to hand women a list of resources for continuing a pregnancy," said Ms. Lee. "Question 6 wants to take this list out of the woman's hands, so she will feel she has no choice but abortion."

Maryland State Probation Officer Maureen Kirby-Smith agreed.

"It's sad when a woman comes before you who has experienced the trauma of abortion and, not knowing where to turn, has turned on herself," Ms. Kirby-Smith said. "Some have told me they wished they had known differently about what choices were available to them before they got the abortion."

The group also opposes the section of Senate Bill 162 that addresses parental consent and notification.

Tanya A. Shewell, former executive director of Granite House Inc., said that by not requiring a minor to inform her parents about her pregnancy, the bill "does not provide for an assured way for a minor to turn to her support system."

She said there is also an inherent conflict of interest within this section of the bill.

The doctor performing the abortion, who receives money for his services, would have the authority to decide whether the minor is mature enough to make a decision without her parents' input.

"By controlling the inclusion of parents in the decision-making process regarding this medical procedure, the doctor performing abortions, in effect, has the ability to impact the number of abortions performed and, ultimately, his monetary reward," Ms. Shewell said.

Ms. Ziegler said the group is voicing its concern about consent, notification and clash-of-interest.

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