Dwyer proposes "personhood" amendment

In case debates this session over the death penalty and gay rights weren't enough for you, we could see some abortion politics creep into the General Assembly this year, too. Del. Don Dwyer, a socially conservative Anne Arundel County Republican, is proposing a "personhood amendment" that would define anything from a fertilized egg through a full-term fetus as a person, which some advocates have taken up as a strategy for effectively outlawing abortion.

"I believe that as we approach nearly 40 years since the court ruled on Roe v. Wade, we must once again open the public debate to review when each human being's life begins," Dwyer said in a news release. "There is no doubt today the human being in the womb is a person. In the end, my goal would be that not only Maryland, but every state, would grant the protections of the state and U.S. Constitutions to all persons, born and preborn."

Dwyer says there are similar efforts in 15 states, but so far, none of them have succeeded. The closest anyone has come so far has been in Colorado, where advocates got a similar amendment on the ballot. It failed 75-25.

Given that Maryland is a significantly more liberal state, that most legislators here have considered debate over abortion settled since a referendum in the early '90s, and that there's no citizen initiative process here, I'd rate the odds of this hitting the ballot as about as close to zero as you can get.

But Dwyer will get a committee hearing, and that will give anti-abortion activists a chance to make their case, loudly, passionately and, if experience is any guide, at great length. Dwyer knows he's got no chance, but give him some credit: he believes what he believes, and he never stops trying.

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