Posing a challenge to Republican Larry Hogan, the Maryland chapter of the National Organization for Women has asked candidates for governor to explain their positions on a series of women's health issues.
NOW made a formal request Monday that Hogan, Democratic rival Anthony G. Brown and Libertarian candidate Shawn Quinn answer five questions on abortion and contraceptive services.
The questions pose little difficulty for Brown because he has already taken positions largely in accord with NOW's stands. Quinn is not expected to be a contender. For Hogan, however, answering the questions would force him to choose between running as a moderate and appealing to the social conservative Republican base.
- Whether the candidate would promise to appoint a state secretary of health and mental hygiene who would ensure speedy licensing and re-licensing of abortion providers.
- Whether they would keep what NOW called "Maryland's current balanced regulations" of abortion clinics.
- Whether they would appoint judges and an insurance commissioner who would uphold women's access to contraceptive coverage in health plans, as well as abortion rights.
- Whether they would maintain current funding levels for programs providing reproductive health and contraceptive services.
- Whether the candidates would oppose a "human life amendment" -- typically defining life as beginning at conception. NOW contends such a measure would outlaw some common methods of birth control and ban fertility treatments.
NOW, which has yet to endorse in the race, asked candidates to respond by the close of business Wednesday.