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Mooney bill addresses late term abortions

March 24, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland Sen. Alex Mooney wants to make it a crime for doctors to perform late-term abortions unless the life of the mother is at stake or the fetus has a serious defect.

His committee heard testimony on the issue Tuesday. If passed by the Maryland General Assembly, Gov. Parris Glendening would likely veto the bill.

Current law does not prohibit late-term abortions for arbitrary reasons such as sex selection, said Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Sen. Andrew Harris, R-Baltimore.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has the power to adopt regulations on late-term abortions, but has not done so.

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Abortion foes testified that they support the bill, although they had hoped it would ban all late-term abortions.

Abortion rights advocates said there is no need for the law because doctors don't perform late-term abortions unless the life of the mother is at stake or the fetus has a serious defect.

"I feel really marginalized and disrespected here. If you are that mistrustful of women, then in the spirit of Jonathan Swift I'd like to make a modest proposal: All women in their last three months of pregnancy should spend it in prison," said Maggy Cullman, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland's deputy for public policy.

The law would have a chilling effect on abortion providers who already face harassment and threats of violence, they testified.

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