Bill to license abortion clinics seems near death

March 17, 2004|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

A proposal to license and regulate clinics that perform abortions in Maryland appears all but dead in the legislature this year, according to a sponsor of the bill now before the state Senate.

Sen. Andrew P. Harris, a Baltimore County Republican and anesthesiologist, said that while he believes he has the six votes needed to win passage of his bill in the Education, Health and Environment Committee, he does not believe the committee's chairwoman, Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, will consider it.

"I don't think it will appear on any more vote lists," Harris said yesterday. "We have the votes. ... Senator Hollinger won't let it out of committee. The chairman is holding the bill."

Hollinger, a Baltimore County Democrat, declined to say whether she was killing the bill but did say, "It's on hold."

Last week, Hollinger, a registered nurse, said she did not believe the legislation was necessary. She said current federal and state laws are sufficient to ensure abortions are safe.

Harris is among three senators proposing changes to state laws regarding abortion.

A second bill also would license and regulate abortion clinics, but that bill did not have as many committee supporters as Harris' bill because some viewed the legislation as too complicated.

A third bill would require parental notification in cases where an abortion is performed on a minor. All three bills were in jeopardy last week, but Harris' appeared to have the strongest support.

With Harris' legislation heading toward defeat, the abortion bills do not seem likely to pass this session.

Bills similar to the Senate's abortion legislation were heard yesterday in the House of Delegates, but if the Senate bills fail, the House bills would likely be killed, too.

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