By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
As legislatures around the country have renewed efforts to restrict abortions, an Anne Arundel County Republican has proposed a Maryland law that would impose a deadline on when a woman could receive an abortion during the course of her pregnancy. But even he doesn’t think the proposal will make it out of committee.
Legislation titled the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, SB 34, sponsored by Sen. Ed Reilly dictates that after 20 weeks into a pregnancy, a physician would not be permitted to induce an abortion, except in cases of medical emergency. The 20-week cut off was determined by the bill’s proponents, who provided data that says the fetus develops pain receptors by that date.
Reilly said he anticipates there will not be a committee vote for the bill, though he said members of the Senate Finance Committee were respectful of the bill when they heard it Wednesday.
While not receiving a committee vote will effectively kill the bill, Reilly, a staunch pro-life advocate, plans to reintroduce the bill next year. Reilly is one of seven incumbent senators facing reelection with no opposition in either the primary or general election.
However, with a Democratic-controlled legislature, such a measure will likely never make it to the floor.
Similar laws in nine states
Nine states, including Alabama and Texas — Reilly referred to these as “progressive” — have instituted similar laws. In Arizona, a comparable bill was struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court refused to review the decision.
Side-by-side analysis of the language of Reilly’s bill and the Arizona bill suggests the two pieces of legislation are similar.
In cases of medical emergency, the Arizona legislation stated that a physician must use “good faith clinical judgment” and Reilly’s proposal says a physician must use “reasonable medical judgment.”
Both bills exclude any mention of future psychological damage a woman might endure, the most common reason cited for Medicaid-funded abortions in Maryland.
“[Reilly’s] bill flies in the state of longstanding Supreme Court decisions,” said Toni Holness, a public policy associate for Maryland’s American Civil Liberties Union, referring to Roe vs. Wade.
Reilly said that the bill is not the same as the Arizona legislation nor does it interfere with Roe vs. Wade.
“[Women] have five months to choose,” Reilly said.
His bill would also penalize physicians who do not submit a report to the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene 30 days after they perform an abortion — up to a $1,000 fine, or in certain cases, a misdemeanor charge.