ANNAPOLIS – In 15 years as a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Steven J. Adashek has never called a mother or father to tell them their daughter has a sexually transmitted disease, is taking birth control or is about to have an abortion – and he hopes he never has to.
He stood before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Tuesday asking them to oppose a bill to require physicians to provide parents with written notice 48 hours before performing an abortion on a minor.
Requiring the notice, he said, could delay a needed abortion if a young woman decides to bypass the law by going before a judge.
“The further along you go, it increases the risk,” he said.
Anti-abortion activists and women’s rights organizations debated two bills to change the way abortions are handled in Maryland. The parental notification bill is sponsored by Sen. J. Robert Hooper, R-Harford. The other measure is sponsored by Sens. Andrew P. Harris, R-Baltimore County and Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick, and prohibits doctors from performing abortions if a fetus can live outside the womb.
The bills were aired despite a call by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George’s, for lawmakers to avoid the issues of abortion and gay rights until they get a hearing from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Hooper said he sponsored the parental notification bill because he felt it was in the best interest of the young woman if her parents knew she was about to undergo a medical procedure.
The parents are responsible for a child until she turns 18, Hooper said.
“This is not a bill to delay or hold back or stop an abortion from happening,” he said. “It just says the parents will be notified.”
Opponents of Hooper’s bill say it would put sexually abused young girls in a tough position because they may have to face parents who aren’t supportive.
Donna Behrens, a representative of the Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families, opposed the legislation saying the current law should remain intact.
“We can’t mandate good relationships within families,” she said. “We can’t mandate it. We can’t legislate it.”
Adashek also asked lawmakers to vote against the other abortion bill, which prohibits post-viability abortions and imposes criminal penalties on doctors caught performing them. He said the measure threatens the way abortion doctors do their jobs and could hurt potential mothers who decide to abort late into pregnancy because of health problems.
Women could end up carrying a fetus with severe abnormalities to term, he said.
“That is horrendous to put a woman through,” Adashek said. “This would be a disservice.”
Harris said he drafted the post-viability legislation after a debate last year generated a heated discussion of Maryland abortion laws. He researched the law and found abortions could be performed even if the fetus could live outside the mother’s body.
“It is my view that current law does not prohibit abortions after the point of viability,” Assistant Attorney General Kathryn M. Rowe stated in a letter to Harris.
Harris said the bill would ensure women don’t terminate pregnancy in the third trimester for frivolous reasons.