This year, I attended my third annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. While this, the largest pro-life event in the world, is incredibly important, I have always tried to maintain a good perspective on pro-life politics. Although I long for the day when Roe v. Wade is overturned, I try to be cognizant of the fact that it may never happen, and that even if it does, it will not mean the end of the abortion question. States would continue to have a lot of jurisdiction over the issue, as they do now. Additionally, there are a number of life issues that would not be addressed by overturning Roe. For this reason, over the past few years, I have attempted to remain involved in my state’s pro-life politics. Here’s a summary of my experience with Maryland’s pro-life politics and an evaluation of what my state has been doing on the issue, in light of the Maryland March for Life being hosted today.
Maryland hosts its own annual March for Life every March in its capital, Annapolis, and I have attended the past three years. Last year, I went to the Mass for Life at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and then I marched with a group down to the state house. Outside, there is a small rally with pro-life speakers, including pro-life state legislators. This march began in 1979, and it has always been important to me because pro-life legislation is constantly being debated and voted on Maryland. Additionally, Maryland has some of the most lax abortion laws in the country, which means that our advocacy is particularly important. Unfortunately, due to pending inclement weather, the March that was suppose to occur today had to be cancelled. Nevertheless, here is some information about my state’s strengths and weaknesses, and here’s what you can do to help.
In 2009, Maryland became the state with the tightest death penalty restrictions in the country, requiring DNA evidence of guilt. Better still, in May of 2013, Governor O’Malley signed into law the repeal of the death penalty, ending the practice in the state, a huge win for the pro-life movement in the state.
Maryland has also consistently fought against the legalization of physician assisted suicide (PAS). In both 2015 and 2016, a bills were introduced to the Maryland General Assembly that would have allowed doctors to prescribe a lethal medication if a patient with a six month or less terminal diagnosis requested it. Thankfully, these bills both failed. Once again this year, however, a similar bill called HB370/SB354 or more colloquially the “Richard E. Israel and Roger ‘Pip’ Moyer End-of-Life Option Act” was proposed and debated. Fortunately, the bill failed another time as its sponsor in the senate had to withdraw. I am thankful that Maryland will go another year without PAS, but I am concerned that the issue continues to be debated year after year. Indeed, it cannot be reiterated enough that pro-life advocates must be more vigilant to the state of pro-life legislation beyond just ending Roe v. Wade.
Similarly, Maryland has relatively good end of life care. For example, Medicare now is covering end of life counseling, which makes patients fully aware of their options and the resources available to them.
As aforementioned, Maryland has some of the most lax abortion laws in the country. NARAL has awarded Maryland an “A” on permissive abortion law and access, and as of 2012, Maryland ranked fifth in the most permissive laws. Since 1992, abortion has been legal throughout the entirety of apregnancy, far past the point of viability. It is for this reason that until 2016, infamous late-term abortion doctor LeRoy Carhart (of the Supreme Court cases on late-term abortion procedures Sternberg v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Carhart), had performed abortions in Germantown, Maryland since 2010. In 2013, Jennifer Morbelli actually died in his Germantown facilities due to complications during her third-trimester procedure. Thankfully, in 2016 Carhart stopped performing abortions in Maryland
With greater frequency, abortions have been covered by taxpayers through medicaid. Maryland does not require parental consent, and it has a very weak parental notification system which requires such notification only if “it is in the best interest of the minor”. Maryland also does not require abortion facilities to file offical reports about their activities.
As is clear, states have a lot of autonomy under the current Supreme Court decisions regarding the death penalty, euthanasia, and abortion. All of the abortion restrictions that Maryland has failed to pass have been deemed Constitutional by the Supreme Court. Therefore, when the pro-life movement becomes too focused on overturning Roe v. Wade, they become blind to many of the other more feasible ways to promote the pro-life legislation. I urge you to become more involved in your state’s pro-life politics. If you are from Maryland, please sign this online petition to keep PAS from our state. This is particularly important as a bill is reintroduced each year. If you are from another one of the 49 lesser states, or the District of Columbia, then I encourage you to look at your state’s Right to Life page and find out more about what you can do in your area.
RTL Vice President