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Tragic and Preventable Deaths and Injuries at Abortion Clinics Finally Prompt Some Action by Maryland

Faced with mounting evidence of numerous injuries and even deaths, the State of Maryland may finally be moving toward ending18 years of inaction in regulating Maryland’s abortion clinics. Currently, Maryland exempts abortion clinics from the health and safety regulations that govern ambulatory care facilities (out-patient surgical clinics). Rather than being regulated based on surgical risk, abortion clinics are regulated only as doctor offices which perform routine care, not invasive surgery.

Despite factual and moving testimony by dozens of witnesses before the Senate Finance and House Health and Government Operations Committees, to date neither committee has taken action on legislation to ensure greater oversight of abortion clinics. The hearings were held on Senate Bill 505 and House Bill 23, which would require that abortion clinics be regulated just like ambulatory surgical facilities.

The committees have, however, secured an assurance from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) that they plan to draft regulations by July 2011. All stakeholders, including the Maryland Catholic Conference, will be invited to provide input during the drafting process.

“While our lawmakers did not pass legislation providing certainty that all abortion clinics will be held to same health and safety standards as other outpatient surgical facilities, we will work to ensure that DHMH puts in place regulations that will protect the health and safety of women,” said Dr. Nancy Paltell, associate director. “A letter and a promise from DHMH is something, but we still don’t know whether all clinics will be regulated, what level of standards will be applied, and how the Department will monitor compliance.”

“We intend to hold their feet to the fire,” said Paltell. “The health and safety of women should not be compromised by warrantless claims from abortion providers that it is too costly to comply with the same standards as other surgical facilities.”

Maryland Catholic Conference advocates for the Church's public policy positions before the Maryland General Assembly and other civil officials. The Conference represents all three dioceses with territory in the state – the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

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