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Abortion bill finds heated and controversial opposition in House Committee

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Posted at 5:36 PM, Feb 21, 2023

Over the course of two hours on Tuesday, the House Health and Government Operations Committee (HGO) heard testimony both for and against HB705, the Speaker's legislative effort to enshrine the right to an abortion in the Maryland constitution.

If passed, the bill would put the question to the voters of whether to amend the state's constitution. That question would appear on the 2024 ballot in Maryland.

But following the proponents of the bill, panel after panel of witnesses came to urge an unfavorable report from the committee.

Some witnesses cited their deeply held religious beliefs.

"The Catholic Conference believes that every person is created in the image and likeness of God," said Brian Barnwell on behalf of the Maryland Catholic Conference, "and all life should be respected and protected from conception to natural death."

Others argued that the amendment goes too far.

Danielle Pimentel, the Policy Counsel for Americans United for Life testified that, "HB705 is a radical bill.. that authorizes elective abortions, on-demand until a baby's birthdate."

During a previous exchange between a Republican delegate and one of the proponents of the bill, this topic came up.

Delegate Kathy Szeliga of Baltimore County, asked if proponents would support an amendment that would "protect full-term healthy babies from being aborted as [are] currently being done in Montgomery County?"

"My answer to that," responded Michelle Siri, the Executive Director of the Women's Law Center of Maryland, "is that there are not full-term healthy babies being aborted. There is a different medical procedure that is involved in that situation, so that is not happening. But we don't want those limitations placed on here because we want to make sure that decisions can be made between the provider and the patient at whatever time is necessary."