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Anti-Abortion Lawmakers Propose New Regulations in Maryland

'We have to strike the right balance between access and safety,' said Wendy Kronmiller, of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Capital News Service

Citing recent incidents in Maryland and other states, some anti-abortion lawmakers are calling for regulations that they say the state health department has failed to provide.

Three bills respond directly to the case of New Jersey doctor Steven Brigham, who began late-term abortions in New Jersey and had patients drive to his Elkton clinic to finish the procedures. One such procedure in August led to the hospitalization of an 18-year old woman.

Delegate Michael Smigiel, R-Cecil, whose law office is within blocks of the Elkton clinic, said he crafted his legislation narrowly to avoid the controversy of taking on the legality of abortion.

"I'm not here to have a big fight over abortion," Smigiel said. "I want to stick to medical issues. If a woman is going to have an abortion, she deserves to live through the process."

Legislators, abortion opponents and abortion-rights advocates gathered Tuesday before the House Health and Government Operations Committee to testify on Smigiel's bills, and four others, regulating abortions. The proposed bills ranged in scope from the transportation regulations to one bill that would outlaw abortion in the state.

Smigiel's bills would require that abortion procedures that are started in the state stay in the state except in the case of an emergency, and that women who require transportation mid-procedure be moved by ambulance to a hospital. Another bill would require that doctors report abortions to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, including information like complications and injuries without identifying the patient or physician.

But abortion rights supporters say the legislation is designed to increase the cost of and limit access to abortions.

NARAL Pro-Choice Interim Director Melissa Kleder called the bills "a series of attacks on women's freedom and privacy" and said the health department has the objectivity, authority and expertise to regulate abortion.

The bills' sponsors and supporters say the department has failed to craft regulations as allowed under law since a 1992 referendum, leading to unsafe conditions for women seeking abortions.

"These things we read about in the newspapers are the exceptions; they're not the rule," said Wendy Kronmiller, assistant secretary for regulatory affairs at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene."We have to strike the right balance between access and safety."

Kronmiller said in the hearings that while the department does not regulate the abortion procedures themselves, the physicians who perform the procedures are regulated by the Maryland Board of Physicians.

One of the bills would require the department to craft and adopt regulations by January. Kronmiller said the department is already in the process of doing so, and will have regulations drafted by December.

Other bills heard include one sponsored by Delegate Adelaide Eckardt, R-Dorchester, and Delegate Pamela Beidle, D-Anne Arundel, that would require abortion clinics to comply with regulations for ambulatory surgical facilities, which are much more stringent than current regulations. A similar measure was recently passed in Virginia, which abortion rights advocates say will result in the closure of a majority of Virginia's clinics.

The most sweeping bill introduced is one sponsored by Delegate Don Dwyer, R-Anne Arundel, that would define "personhood" in the Maryland Declaration of Rights to establish that the right not to be deprived of life is vested in all human beings from the beginning of their development. Dwyer's bill, similar to bills he introduced in 2009 and 2010 that failed in committee, would send the amendment to referendum, but will likely not make it to the floor of the House.

Michael March 17, 2011 at 02:37 AM
Ms. Cardenas: Abortion is a rabid topic for most people; there is seldom any middle ground. Our opposing views can be offered as Exhibit 1. FWIW, I honestly meant to include rape or incest as reasons for abortion, but while expressing my “extreme and illogical zealot-like beliefs/ideology,” I neglected to include them. My apologies. As for the results of rape and unwanted pregnancy hitting home - my wife was raped at the age of 14 and because pregnant. The baby was given up for adoption at birth. So while the effects of rape can be insidious, and in my wife's case, long-lasting, the life of the baby was saved. A further result of this life-changing experience, was her developing the strength and resilience to push forward with her life. Good can come out of evil. But, there’s more to the story. After our first two children were born, we lost a third child soon after delivery. It was devastating for both of us. But as a result of that loss, we decided to adopt a child, a decision that also helped heal her wounds from many years before. You prefer to use worse case scenarios to present your case - “children growing up in foster homes or living on the streets, abused, forced into prostitution, molested and unloved? Or perhaps thrown into a dumpster to die.” To me, that proves your ignorance. I believe that life is born at conception, and personal experience has proven to me that there are other options besides abortion and the death of an unborn child.
Michael March 17, 2011 at 03:10 AM
(While attempting to edit my original post, I inadvertently deleted it. I'll repost it with the edit for the benefit of those reading the post of Kiki Cardenas.) Wow! Maryland has produced a bountiful fruit basket of controversial legislation so far this year. To date we've had gay marriage, tuition aid for illegal aliens, making it illegal to smoke in a car with children, and proposed tax increases on everything from gasoline to snack foods. Did I miss anything? And now, the abortion issue drops by again to say “hi.” Abortion is an easy one for me – I don't even have to go beyond “A” in the alphabet to state my beliefs. Simply put, I believe “Abortion is an Abhorrent Abomination.” It is the planned, willful taking of a human life; first degree murder. The only exceptions that should be allowed under law is if the life of the mother is in immediate danger, or pregnancy as a result of rape or incest.. I can't wait to see what is next on the agenda in Annapolis.
Lee Picton March 17, 2011 at 03:18 AM
Michael, What you "believe" is irrelevant and profoundly disrespectful of a woman's right to control her own body. A fertilized egg is not a person, a blastocyst is not a person, an embryo is not a person, a fetus is not a person. I am sick and tired of zealots like you who think they have a right to tell other women what to do. Just because you "believe" something, does not make it so. So keep your religious fanaticism to yourself and keep your nose out of other poeople's business. Lee Picton
Karen Walker March 17, 2011 at 03:14 PM
I have to speak my mind on this one too, although Im probly gonna be sorry that I did, I am a mother and a grandmother not that it matters anyway, but I am totaly for abortions if they are regulated.Ive never had one myself but I know plenty people who have including my daughter.Its true its a womans choice to do what she pleases with her body,I also think that that abortions should be legal,and I think that if you are under age your parents or guardian should be told about the aboration.Thats only because there could be an under lying medical condition that the person doesent know about that the parents . Ther are all kinds of reasons why the parents need to be notified before anything is done,There is also a down side to this because there may be reasons why the person dosent want the parent to know about this,there are so many pros and cons to this.Maybe parents really need tp buckle down and be more open minded with their daughters to find these things out,bottom line is I think that anyone should be able to get an abortion but I dont think that women or girls should act irresponsible either,although mistakes do and can happen, but I dont think that a person should be allowed to get but so many abortions,I know a young lady who has had 8 abortions within 3 years time, so yes there should be a limit,not sure how to do that yet still thinking about this one.
Michael March 17, 2011 at 06:36 PM
Mr. Picton - Excuse me, sir, but I never stated or inferred anything other than my opinion - that I believe abortion, with limited exceptions, is wrong. It appears you also expressed your opinion, but with considerably less aplomb. I'm curious.....do you truly think your opinion, and how you expressed it, is more relevant or profoundly less disrespectful than mine? If so, who made you King of the Hill? As for my "religious fanaticism" and being a "zealot"? Well, if you actually took the time to read my posts you will see no mention of, or reference to, anything concerning religion. And from your response, it is you who seems to be the fanatic zealot. My belief on abortion has nothing to do with religion. It is simply that I believe abortion at any stage is taking the life of a human being. If you believe otherwise, fine, you're entitled to your opinion. Just don't try to impose upon my right to express mine.

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