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Abortion foes win round in House of Delegates

March 26, 1998|By GUY FLETCHER

Abortion foes win round in House of Delegates

ANNAPOLIS - Abortion foes in the Maryland General Assembly were successful Wednesday in their second attempt in as many weeks to prevent an expansion of publicly funded abortions in the state.

The House of Delegates voted 70-65 to limit abortion funding in an enhanced health program for cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother. Similar language to place the restrictions in legislation establishing a new health care program for children of working poor families was defeated 63-71 last week.

Among the legislators who changed their votes was Del. J. Anita Stup, R-Washington/Frederick. She voted in favor of the funding-restriction language along with Dels. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, and Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington.

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Stup has maintained that the issue of abortion funding should be dealt with in the budget.

"This merely limits an expansion of funds for abortions for children," she said of the restrictions.

Said McKee: "I'm don't know if I was surprised (that the measure passed). I'm more pleased that it passed."

Voting against the measure were Dels. D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington, and Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, who voted the same way a week ago.

State officials have estimated about 60 more teenage girls would obtain abortions each year under the program, but some lawmakers argued it would be higher.

Some legislators also said girls from other states could come to Maryland seeking state-funded abortions.

"I'm afraid we may need to install turnstiles on our borders sometime down the road to slow traffic," said Del. Thomas E. Dewberry, D-Baltimore County.

Opponents of the amendment said cutting abortions out of the health insurance program would hurt working poor people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford abortions.

"I think it's discriminatory," Hecht said.

Hecht said abortion opponents have been working hard in recent days to reverse last week's outcome. She said she was approached to change her vote, but said no.

"If we think people need health care, this is health care," she said.

The abortion funding could still be restored in a conference committee among Senate and House members. The Senate version of the budget includes the funding for abortions.

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