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Maryland has de facto abortion on demand

I read with interest Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg's critique of Marta Mossburg's interpretation of abortion law ("Mossburg wrong on Md. abortion law," May 9). Though the lawyer-politician has great knowledge and experience in many areas of Maryland law, his interpretation is not accurate here.

In objecting to Ms. Mossburg's statement, "Abortion is virtually available on demand throughout a pregnancy," Mr. Rosenberg cites the specific abortion statute, noting that abortion is legally permissible when "necessary to protect the life or health of the woman or if the fetus is affected by genetic defect or severe deformity or abnormality."

The problem with Maryland law is a flagrant lack of definition of health. Consequently, aborted unborn children as late as 36 weeks could be found in an Elkton facility when it was raided. It was why when Live Action sent in an undercover woman in LeRoy Carhart's Nebraska abortion facility who was 26 weeks pregnant without any threat to her well-being or any complication with the child. Dr. Cathart, who also practices in Germantown, established that the procedure was purely elective and then told the woman that while he could not perform an abortion in Nebraska, he could do so in Maryland.

Certainly if providers of abortions themselves admit to being able to perform these late abortions in their own words, and six other facilities in Maryland do in their advertisements, the law is not nearly as protective as we may hope.

Regarding the parental notification law, the delegate once again quoted directly from statute with respect to the times when a physician can override the parental notification requirement: "in the professional judgment of the physician, notice to the parent or guardian may lead to physical or emotional abuse to the minor, the minor is mature and capable of giving informed consent to an abortion; or notification would not be in the best interest of the minor."

When acceptable reasons to avoid giving parental notification include the physician's subjective assessment of a minor's maturity and the physician's subjective interpretation of what would be in the minor's "best interest," whatever that may mean, unrestricted by a definition, it is clear that Maryland's parental notification statute has a large loophole and needs to be strengthened to provide true parental notice.

Jeffrey D. Meister

The writer is the director of administration and legislation for Maryland Right to Life.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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