For those persuaded by abortion opponents that Question 6, the abortion measure on Tuesday's ballot, is a "bad law," it is instructive to look back at the law that the measure would replace if the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade.
Under that 1968 legislation, abortions could be performed only in hospitals -- and only with the approval of a hospital review committee. Both conditions served to make the procedure more expensive and more difficult. For example, an abortion in a clinic now costs around $300, while the same procedure in a hospital costs several times that amount. Before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion, cost alone kept safe abortions out of reach for many women. Moreover, the delays caused by the review process mandated by the 1968 law made abortions riskier and more traumatic for all women in Maryland.
Under that system, each hospital set up its own review boards and approval procedures. In practical terms, that meant the availability of abortion varied from hospital to hospital. The 1968 law was considered liberal for its time because it allowed consideration of a woman's mental health, not just threats to her physical health. However, the criteria for proving a threat to mental health also varied from hospital to hospital -- and many institutions took a strict approach. Some even required a woman to sign herself into a psychiatric ward to prove that the pregnancy indeed threatened her mental health. That kind of treatment added more dollars to the fee and, certainly, more emotional trauma to an already difficult situation.