Maryland provides virtually no protection for women and minors seeking abortion. It does not have an informed consent law, and its parental notice law contains a loophole that eviscerates the protection this requirement typically provides. It also allows and funds destructive embryo research.
- The state maintains a “Freedom of Choice Act.” The Act mandates a right to abortion even if Roe v. Wade is eventually overturned, specifically providing that the state may not “interfere with the decision of a woman to terminate a pregnancy” before the fetus is viable, if the procedure is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman, or if the unborn child is afflicted by a genetic defect or serious deformity.
- Under current Maryland law, an unmarried minor under the age of 18 who lives with a parent may not undergo an abortion unless one parent has been notified by the physician. However, the law contains a significant loophole: a minor may obtain an abortion without parental notification if, in the professional judgment of the physician, notice to the parent may lead to physical or emotional abuse of the minor, the minor is mature and capable of giving informed consent to an abortion, or notice would not be in the “best interests” of the minor.
- Maryland taxpayers are required by statute to pay for “medically necessary” abortions for women eligible for public assistance. This requirement essentially equates to funding abortion-on-demand in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s broad definition of “health” in the context of abortion.
- In July 2012, the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced that abortion clinics will have to be licensed and meet minimum health and safety standards modeled after existing standards for outpatient surgical centers.
- Only licensed physicians may perform abortions.
- Maryland offers “Choose Life” license plates, the proceeds of which benefit pregnancy resource centers and/or other organizations providing abortion alternatives.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Maryland recognizes a “viable fetus” as a distinct victim of murder, manslaughter, or unlawful homicide. However, the law explicitly states its enactment should not be construed as conferring “personhood” on the fetus.
- The state allows a wrongful death (civil) action when a viable unborn child is killed through a negligent or criminal act.
- Maryland law does not require physicians to provide appropriate medical care to an infant who survives an abortion.
- Maryland has a “Baby Moses” law, establishing a safe haven for mothers to legally leave their infants up to 10 days of age at designated places and ensuring that the infants receive appropriate care and protection.
- Maryland law provides that a child is not receiving proper care if he or she is born exposed to methamphetamine or if the mother tests positive for methamphetamine upon admission to the hospital for delivery of the infant. It funds drug treatment programs for pregnant women and newborns.
- A healthcare provider must report the delivery of an infant exposed to controlled substances to a local social services office. The report alone will not automatically trigger a child abuse or neglect investigation.
- Maryland prohibits cloning-to-produce-children, but not cloning-for-biomedical-research—thus making it a “clone-and-kill” state.
- Further, Maryland maintains a “Stem Cell Research Fund” and allows and funds destructive embryonic research. However, funds may also be used for adult stem cell research.
- Maryland does not prohibit fetal experimentation
- Maryland appears to prohibit the sale or transfer of human eggs for “valuable consideration.” It proscribes the use of sperm or eggs from a “known donor” if the donor receives any remuneration for the donation. The prohibition does not apply to anonymous donation to a tissue or sperm bank or to a fertility clinic.
- Umbilical cord blood donation educational materials are to be distributed to all pregnant patients.
- Maryland does not regulate assisted reproductive technologies, but does maintain provisions related to the parentage of children conceived using such technologies.
End of Life Laws:
- In Maryland, assisted suicide is considered a felony.
- The state maintains a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Paradigm program.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
Participation in Abortion and Contraception:
- Under Maryland law, no person may be required to participate in or refer to any source for medical procedures that result in an abortion.
- A hospital is not required to permit the performance of abortions within its facilities or to provide referrals for abortions.
- Health insurance plans that provide prescription coverage must also provide coverage for contraception. There is a conscience exemption for religious employers.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Maryland currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, or other forms of immoral medical research.
What Happened in 2013:
- Maryland enacted a fiscal year 2014 budget that continues a (relatively weak) prohibition on the use of money from the general fund for an abortion except when the mother’s life or health, including mental health, are in danger, when the unborn baby has abnormalities, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
- In Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, Inc. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court decision that had found a Baltimore ordinance regulating pregnancy resource centers unconstitutional. The case, and another out of Montgomery County, continues in federal district court.
- Maryland enacted a measure requiring a healthcare provider to report the delivery of an infant exposed to controlled substances to a local social services office. The measure specifically provides that the report alone will not automatically trigger a child abuse or neglect investigation. Maryland modified their Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) program to permit physician assistants to update or complete a POLST form at the request of a patient.
- The state established palliative care pilot programs in certain hospitals.
Recommendations for Maryland
Women’s Protection Project Priorities:
- Women’s Health Defense Act (5-month abortion limitation)
- Women’s Right to Know Act with reflection period
- Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act
- Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act
- Meaningful parental involvement law
- Child Protection Act
- Repeal State FOCA
- Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act
- Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act
- Women’s Ultrasound Right to Know Act
- Coercive Abuse Against Mothers Prevention Act
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Resource Centers
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act (protecting the child from conception)
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act (for a pre-viable child)
- Born-Alive Infant Protection Act
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act