- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 26, 2003

ANNAPOLIS With a Republican in the governor's office for the first time since Roe v. Wade, Republican lawmakers are hoping to find a more sympathetic ear for their efforts to restrict abortion rights.
However, some Republicans who oppose abortion said they have not decided how to capitalize on that political position during this session of the General Assembly. More than two weeks into the session, no such bills have been introduced.
State lawmakers who have sponsored legislation in the past to ban the late-term procedure that pro-life advocates call "partial birth" abortion say they may hold off this year, now that Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of Congress.
"I think there's probably a good chance something might be passed on a federal level," said state Sen. Larry E. Haines, Carroll County Republican.
Mr. Haines also said it would be particularly difficult to get a fair hearing for such a controversial bill in the heavily Democratic Maryland legislature during a transition year, with many new lawmakers and new committee chairmen, as well as the new governor.
Maryland has traditionally been one of the more liberal states on abortion rights, earning an A-minus from NARAL Pro-Choice America. No legislation to limit abortion ever made it to former Gov. Parris N. Glendening's desk, but it if had, the Democrat likely would have shot it down.
During the campaign, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, advertised that he was a defender of abortion rights. But he supported a ban on the late-term procedure while in the U.S. House of Representatives, as he would as governor, said his chief spokesman, Paul Schurick. It's a complex issue, Mr. Schurick said, so it's hard to say definitively where he would stand without seeing a bill.
Pro-life advocates in the state legislature say they are more likely to put forth a bill this year that would require underage girls to get parental consent for an abortion, except in cases where the parents are abusive or neglectful. To get that exception, the girls would have to seek a waiver from a family court judge.
Diana Onken, regional organizer for the Maryland chapter of NARAL, said that asking a teenage girl to navigate a family court system is a way of "making it impossible to access those services."
Most young women will tell their parents if they are having an abortion anyway, Miss Onken said, "but when they don't, it's because they have a very good reason," such as abuse.

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