Maryland Lawmakers Propose Bill Regulating Abortion Facilities

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 7, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Maryland Lawmakers Propose Bill Regulating Abortion Facilities

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 7, 2004

Annapolis, MD ( — Until the day comes that Roe v. Wade is overturned and states can make abortion illegal, there are few options pro-life state legislators can pursue to reduce abortions. One is to ensure that abortion facilities follow basic medical standards and, if not, to subject them to fines that may result in their closing.

That’s just what pro-life legislators in Maryland propose.

A group of pro-life legislators say that if abortion advocates want abortion to be treated the same as legitimate medical procedures than abortion facilities should be treated the same as legitimate medical clinics.

That means abortion facilities in the state may have to spend thousands of dollars on changes and improvements. Similar laws in other states such as South Carolina and Louisiana have already been responsible for putting abortion facilities out of business.

The legislators held a press conference Tuesday to announce the legislation.

"Most people are not aware that abortion facilities are currently unlicensed and unregulated in Maryland," State Sen. Janet Greenip (R) said. "My bill seeks to protect women from substandard care that results from this lack of standards and oversight."

The bill will ensure that abortion facilities are licensed by the state, and that they carry adequate insurance to cover malpractice and negligence related to abortions.

Greenip’s bill will also ensure that abortion facilities provide women with information about abortion’s risks and complications and will provide women with a greater ability to file for civil damages should they suffer from a botched abortion.

This legislation will also provide, for the first time, information about abortion complications and botched abortions that occur in Maryland.

However, abortion advocates say the legislation isn’t needed and because, they claim, abortion is safe.

"This is a trend throughout the country," said Wendy Royalty, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Maryland, told the Baltimore Sun. "Because the anti-abortion activists have not been successful in outlawing abortions, they have a well-coordinated strategy to make it difficult for women to get abortions."

"They want to put clinics out of business, and this is a way to do that," said John Nugent, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, added.

"It’s expensive. I’d have to open a new clinic," said Nugent, who operates two abortion facilities.

The Women’s Health Protection Act follows publication of a Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies survey from December showing that an over 90 percent of Maryland citizens, including those who identified themselves as "pro-choice," believe that abortion facilities should be held to the same standards as other medical clinics.

Greenip concluded, "The overwhelming majority of Marylanders agree that the State needs to protect the lives and safety of Maryland women, whenever they seek any kind of medical procedure. Women who seek abortion services deserve the same protection as women receiving cosmetic surgery or treatment for a kidney stone. Women deserve the highest standards of health care, as do all Marylanders."

In 2000, Maryland had 42 facilities where abortions are performed.

Maryland is one of the few states that allows state Medicaid fund to pay for abortions. Nearly 4,000 abortions are paid for with taxpayer funds annually.

About 34,560 abortions are performed annually in Maryland, according to the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute. The state does not require the keeping of official abortion figures as almost all other states do. Geenip’s bill would change that.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments last month concerning a similar law in Arizona.