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February 6, 2009

Dwyer proposes "personhood" amendment

In case debates this session over the death penalty and gay rights weren't enough for you, we could see some abortion politics creep into the General Assembly this year, too. Del. Don Dwyer, a socially conservative Anne Arundel County Republican, is proposing a "personhood amendment" that would define anything from a fertilized egg through a full-term fetus as a person, which some advocates have taken up as a strategy for effectively outlawing abortion.

"I believe that as we approach nearly 40 years since the court ruled on Roe v. Wade, we must once again open the public debate to review when each human being's life begins," Dwyer said in a news release. "There is no doubt today the human being in the womb is a person. In the end, my goal would be that not only Maryland, but every state, would grant the protections of the state and U.S. Constitutions to all persons, born and preborn."

Dwyer says there are similar efforts in 15 states, but so far, none of them have succeeded. The closest anyone has come so far has been in Colorado, where advocates got a similar amendment on the ballot. It failed 75-25.

Given that Maryland is a significantly more liberal state, that most legislators here have considered debate over abortion settled since a referendum in the early '90s, and that there's no citizen initiative process here, I'd rate the odds of this hitting the ballot as about as close to zero as you can get.

But Dwyer will get a committee hearing, and that will give anti-abortion activists a chance to make their case, loudly, passionately and, if experience is any guide, at great length. Dwyer knows he's got no chance, but give him some credit: he believes what he believes, and he never stops trying.

Posted by Andy Green at 9:59 AM | | Comments (0)

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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