Maryland Pro-Life Legislator Up for Health Dept. Job Opposed on Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 2, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Maryland Pro-Life Legislator Up for Health Dept. Job Opposed on Abortion

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
July 2, 2004

Annapolis, MD ( — Pro-abortion groups are opposing the possible appointment of a pro-life state Senator to head the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Senator Andrew Harris (R-Baltimore) is on the short list for the appointment, and according to his office he has "expressed interest" in the position should he be appointed. A decision could come as early as this month.

"Senator Harris is interested in doing anything to support our governor," Kevin Reigrut, Harris’ chief-of-staff, told

Reigrut added that Harris’ background does qualify him for the position, including his education and service as an anesthesiologist, his master’s degree in health policy from Johns Hopkins University, and his current position on the Medical School Council of Johns Hopkins University.

However, it is Harris’ pro-life voting and sponsorship of bills like SB 471, which sought to institute regulations on abortion businesses, that have abortion advocates opposing his appointment.

"[Harris’] voting record is not exactly a pro-choice voting record," Bill Woodcock, president of the Columbia Democratic Club, told the Townson Times.

Governor Robert Ehrlich was not available for comment, though he has "repeatedly said he is not willing to mess with abortion," according to Woodcock.

The appointee’s views on abortion and other issues are irrelevant, agree Harris and Greg Massoni, a spokesman for Gov. Ehrlich’s office.

"The governor sets policy for the state. It’s a secretary’s job to make sure that policy is carried out," said Harris.

"The health secretary has little to no effect on that [abortion]," Massoni said. "In the end it has to be someone who is a good manager, who is on board with Ehrlich and has a background in health and human services."

Reigrut said that Harris is "frustrated" at the idea that Maryland is "getting into a Washington-style ‘litmus test’" regarding candidate’s views and their ability to serve in public offices.

"He believes his is not a legitimate argument," concluded Reigrut.