House Bill 1151 Health - Abortion - 24-Hour Waiting Period

Committee: House Health and Government Operations

Position: SUPPORT

The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of House Bill 1151.  The Catholic Conference represents the public policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.

HB 1151 prohibits physicians from performing or inducing abortions before a 24-hour waiting period has elapsed.  The bill also provides an exception to the waiting period were certain medical safeguards have been met, allowing the abortion to be performed in instances where the mother’s life would be in imminent danger. 

It is well settled that women often experience future negative psychological effects or trauma relative to past abortions.  Often times, when an abortion is sought, the mother is weighing her options, especially in light of the reality of having entered a medical facility and been informed of the medical realities of the procedure.  A mandatory 24-hour waiting period is a reasonable way to give the mother some time to weigh her choice in light of those medical details, free from pressure or duress.

A mother’s decision regarding abortion should not be taken lightly.  The human “right to life” is rooted in the fact that life ethics and social justice are inextricably intertwined in the concept of human dignity.  Pope John Paul II writes that “a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.”  (Evangelium Vitae, 1995).

The Maryland Catholic Conference works to foster a culture of life in Maryland by advocating for laws that uphold the dignity of the human person and that assist pregnant women in need, while working to ensure the State offers safe standards for women’s health.  It is for these reasons that the Maryland Catholic Conference urges a favorable report for HB 1151.