Maryland Also Takes Middle Ground on Abortion


“Judaism Takes Middle Ground on Abortion” was the headline on S.R. Cohen’s opinion column in the July 6 Jewish Times. When the voters of Maryland approved the choice referendum by a 62-38 percent margin in 1992, they also took the middle ground on abortion.

Under this law, a woman decides whether to bear a child in consultation with the people she chooses — her family, doctor and clergy — during the early stages of a pregnancy. However, once the fetus is capable of sustained survival outside the womb, an abortion is permitted only if the procedure is “necessary to protect the life or health of the mother” or “the fetus is affected by genetic defect or serious deformity or abnormality.”

Parents are given notice in most circumstances when an unmarried minor seeks an abortion.

This law embodies the principles of Roe v. Wade. Consequently, if the Supreme Court, absent Justice Kennedy, were to overturn Roe, a woman’s right to choose would still be protected in Maryland under this middle-ground approach.

However, a crucial element of decision-making has changed in our state since the General Assembly enacted the choice law which the voters upheld.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer signed Senate Bill 162 within an hour of its passage by the legislature.

Last year, Congress eliminated funding for family planning services and other reproductive health care if provided by Planned Parenthood. The General Assembly passed House Bill 1083, requiring the governor to make up for that lost funding.

The bill became law without Gov. Hogan’s signature.

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