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Abortion bills pass House after heated debate, head to Senate

Supporters of Friday's referendum to repeal Ireland's abortion ban gathered at Dublin Castle on Saturday. Voters overwhelmingly chose to lift abortion restrictions by changing the country's constitution.
Beyond My Ken

The House of Delegates passed two bills Friday that would make it easier for women to obtain abortions in Maryland; one would enshrine the right in the state Constitution, the other would expand the number of people who can perform the procedure.

The vote came after more than an hour of heated debate that boiled down to an idealistic disagreement over abortion as a practice rather than the actual content of the bills. In addition, Republicans again challenged the need for the legislation.

Del. Susan Krebs, of Carroll County, said abortion is already accessible in the state.

“Abortion is legal and widely available up to 24 weeks in Maryland for any reason,” Krebs said. “After 24 weeks, the mental health reason kicks in…So why do we need this bill?”

Del. William Wivell, of Washington County, argued taxpayers shouldn’t be required to contribute funds to a practice they don’t support; the Abortion Care Access Act would allocate $3.5 million to training new providers.

Instead, he said, individuals should have the choice to contribute to funding abortion services.

“I heard a fellow colleague say that they like to donate to Planned Parenthood,” Wivell said. “That's where this money should be going to. If someone wants to support this, then donate to a group like Planned Parenthood.”

The bills now head to the Senate.

Callan Tansill-Suddath is a State House Reporter for WYPR, where she covers the General Assembly.