Sara Engram, director of The Evening Sun editorial page, was named the winner yesterday of the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award in editorial writing for a series of Sunday editorials on the statewide abortion referendum last November.
Ms. Engram's editorials supported "Question 6" -- to keep abortion legal in Maryland in the event the Supreme Court overturned its 1973 Rowe vs. Wade ruling that found a constitutional right to an abortion. Maryland voters approved Question 6 by a margin of about 62-38.
The Baltimore Sun newspapers' editorial pages "have long been on record in support of keeping abortion legal and accessible," Ms. Engram said yesterday, adding that she was given the freedom to "take that issue and run with it."
Underlying the importance of the issue to Marylanders on both sides of the issue, Ms. Engram noted, "There was no other Maryland issue receiving as much space in the editorial page."
Ms. Engram, 43, said she had just returned to work from maternity leave after the birth of her only child when, because of her editorial specialization on issues affecting women and children, the abortion question was placed in her hands.
Acknowledging that the newspaper's editorial stance in favor of "Question 6" displeased some readers, Mr. Engram said that "an JTC editorial page that is not biased is not an editorial page. That's our job -- to have opinions, argue our case and be persuasive."
She added, "We had nothing at stake except what we thought was in the public interest. We came to our bias not because anybody pressured us or paid us -- that was our feeling and we think it is the best policy for Maryland. We're not in favor of abortion. We just don't think it should be a crime."
Ms. Engram was formerly a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore News American, and left a position at the News American as editorial page editor in 1981 to become deputy editor of the editorial page of The Evening Sun.