September 3, 2014

Pro-choice group responds to Kittleman on reproductive rights

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By Jodi Finkelstein

I am writing in response to your August 24 article, “Howard County Democrats attack Alan Kittleman.”

As the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, I am responsible for many things, including ensuring the issue of choice is discussed at all levels of government.  Your article shared that Mr. Kittleman is, “also frustrated that issues about abortion or gun control would come up since county executives do not make policy in these areas.”

This assertion is not correct.

County executives and councils have the authority—and many assert it—to increase funding for reproductive related issues on the county level.  Or, if the state cuts funds, a county executive may choose to restore funding.  In FY 2013 the state cut $180,000 in funds to the Howard County Health Department.  Those funds paid for two nurses and 30% time for a doctor who provided reproductive health care services.  The current county executive replaced the funding to ensure that services continued. In FY 2014, 1,458 individuals sought reproductive related health care.

County executives can act on their own

Moreover, county executives and local governments have the ability to increase awareness about reproductive health through educational campaigns or by passing local laws.  Montgomery County and Baltimore City passed laws (Baltimore City is currently in litigation) insisting that so-called ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ place signs in their waiting rooms stating what services they do and do not provide.

Crisis pregnancy centers are non-profits that front as health clinics to assist women facing an unintended pregnancy.  These centers provide misleading and false information about abortion and birth control.  Howard County has one of these centers. They do not provide abortions or refer women to clinics that provide them.

The initiatives in Baltimore and Montgomery County were supported by the Baltimore mayor and the Montgomery County executive.

It is entirely possible that a county executive could choose to fund crisis pregnancy centers.  Using public funds to support a CPC is contradictory to the mission of NPCM and ensuring women’s reproductive freedoms. We support a woman’s right to use a CPC, but it is critical that she knows that a CPC does not provide comprehensive information about a person’s reproductive health.

NPCM works hard to support pro-choice candidates at all levels as should voters.  Mr. Kittleman’s opinions about abortion and reproductive health should be known to those who plan on voting for him.

Sen. Kittleman responds:

The issue of reproductive choice has been decided in the state of Maryland and as I have already stated I do not advocate changing current law.  I believe this issue is a private matter between a woman and her doctor and I do not think government has a role in that decision.  It is my hope that abortions remain safe, rare and legal.

Now, to the point raised by Ms. Finkelstein, it was unfortunate that Governor O’Malley cut the FY 2013 funding for the Howard County Health Department.  The Howard County Health Department plays an important role in helping people with limited means to obtain high quality health care. As county executive, I will work to ensure that does not happen again.

I will work with my friends and former colleagues in the General Assembly to make sure Howard County gets the funding it needs from the state.  I will also work with the County Council to ensure that our county budget funds the needs of the Howard County Health Department.

 

 

 

  • Concerned Lisbon Resident

    I think I’ll take Senator Kittleman’s comments with a grain of salt. One doesn’t get a 100% pro-life rating without earning it, which means that he has placed some serious attacks on women’s reproductive rights in the past.

    I wouldn’t want my wife, daughter, mother, or friends to live in a county where they had to be unsure of the medical services available to them.

    • Dale McNamee

      Since when is killing a baby described as “medical services” ?

      And why isn’t staying abstinent promoted ? No sex, no baby, no abortion !

    • NWbyNWBornandBred

      I’m sure you’re equally concerned given O’Malley cut funds to the services your wife, daughter, mother or friends may use. Oddly, NARAL’s oh-so-independent voting records showed that supporting those same cuts was still 100% for O’Malley.

      Parrot political talking points all you want. But at least look them up beforehand.

  • KatieSilverSpring

    Ms Finkelstein neglected to note that the Montgomery County ordinance was overturned March 7, 2014 by US District Court judge Deborah Chasnow after Centro Tepeyac sued and the Montgomery County Council declined to appeal. The Montgomery County Council was also ordered to pay Centro Tepeyac’s legal fees.

  • John N.

    The report, “Pro-choice group responds to Kittleman on
    reproductive rights” (MR, 9/3) contains sentences, “Crisis pregnancy centers
    are non-profits that front as health clinics to assist women facing an
    unintended pregnancy. These centers
    provide misleading and false information about abortion and birth control.”

    These NARAL charges convinced the Montgomery County Council to
    try to force CPC’s in the County to put signs in their facilities and tell
    women on their initial verbal contact they were not a medical facility and
    there was no medical professional on staff.

    The Centro Tepeyac pregnancy center sued the County saying
    the ordinance violated their First Amendment free speech rights. Last spring Centro Tepeyac was totally
    victorious, MCC decided not to challenge the judge’s decision and was forced to
    pay Centro Tepeyac attorney’s $375K.

    During the trial testimony was provided that the pregnancy
    centers had served over 100,000 poor and needy women and families without one
    complaint. Even the County’s Health Officer testified she had no complaints
    about CPC’s.

    NARAL, as a promoter of abortion, should advise women of medical
    and psychological risks women endure from abortion. The medical literature is
    full of the risks. For example, there are over 140 studies indicating abortion
    increases the risk of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies and those risks
    harm to the baby, e.g. cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and retardation. Abortion also significantly increases the
    risk of breast cancer, depression and suicide.

  • Dale McNamee

    Are there license plates for pro-life drivers ?

    • lenlazarick

      CloseHelpPlay

      CloseHelpPlay

    • lenlazarick

      Maryland Right to Life and Maryland Choose Life. I tried but couldn’t copy them into the reply.

  • BillBissenas

    So Kittleman’s response is that he is a Democrat? Nice. No wonder none of his ads actually say he’s a registered Republican. Conservative Republicanism is dead in Howard County.

  • NWbyNWBornandBred

    Finkelstein is a Democrat hack. It’s not about choice for her, it’s about partisan politics. Otherwise she wouldn’t be participating in such trivial partisan junk attacks.

    • NWbyNWBornandBred

      Case in point, she supports O’Malley who voted to cut funding, including to what she described above. You want more partisan superstores, go ahead and vote party line.