One moment, the antiabortionists in the Maryland Senate had suffered a stinging defeat by a one-vote margin in their effort to restrict severely the use of state funds for abortions for poor women.

The next moment, Sen. Peter A. Bozick (D-Prince George's) was on his feet, offering yet another abortion amendment -- one not quite so strict, but one that still placed tight curbs on the number of abortions Maryland may fund.

Then striding down the Senate aisle, he heard a colleague, who never before had voted with the antiabortion forces, say: "You're okay on this one. You've got my vote."

With that crucial vote Monday night, Bozick and his colleagues had won this first round in the annual wrenching and emotional fight over state abortion funding.

The Bozick amendment would allow the state to pay for abortions when a doctor certified that a pregnancy might cause "severe and long-lasting physical health damage."

The original restrictive amendment -- calling for use of state funds for abortions only where the death of a woman is threatened or in cases of rape or incest reported promptly to the authorities -- had been defeated.

The additional clause inserted by Bozick secured passage of the amendment restricting the use of state funds for abortions.

Bozick, a Camp Springs beer distributor, has always been deeply involved in the abortion issue, usually working in the background as a "parliamentarian and strategist" as he puts it, while his colleague Sen. Edward T. Conroy (D-Prince George's) debated the issue on the Senate floor.

This year, because the U.S. Supreme Court is considering two major cases on the abortion issue, Bozick and other antiabortionists had seemed content to maintain Maryland's more liberal abortion funding policies until the high court ruled.

But when proabortion forces in the General Assembly attempted to liberalize further the state policy, Bozick was one of the first to sound a rallying cry.

"Look, they started it, and now we're gonna give them a real fight," said Bozick when he first learned of the other side's moves.

Bozick, who for nearly 6 years was chairman of the 8-member Prince George's Senate delegation, always has been a man to speak his mind.

Several years ago, angered that a Senate witness representing the Catholic Church was testifying at a hearing about a lettuce boycott while -- Bozick felt -- the church had done little on issues such as abortion and no-fault divorce, Bozick blurted out: "Well, if you got a little more guidance from that spaghetti vendor in Rome, maybe you wouldn't be here on this."

The remark set off a furor unmatched in the the senator's political career. Bozick, who caled the remark "extremely intemperate," has been trying to live it down ever since.

"I rembeber walking out of the hearing room immediately thinking, 'Oh my God, how could I have said that,'" Bozick said when asked recently about the incident.

This year, Bozick stepped down as head of his Senate delegation, in part so he could be "more independent, speak my own mind, rather than speaking out for the delegation."

Like his political mentor, former Senate President Steny Hoyer, Bozick often championed the coalition between Baltimore and the Washington suburbs that dominated the legislature for a decade.

But as this year's session began, he declared: 'I'm sick and tired of saying 'Let's help Baltimore.'" And some of his votes in the influential Budget and Tax committee on which he sits have reflected that new stance.

Bozick's major efforts this session, as they were last year, have been aimed at gaining funds for the Washington suburban Metro system.

Bozik says he is enjoying his newfound independence that comes with giving up the chairman's job but, he adds somewhat wistfully, "Whenever you give up a measure of authority, there's always a tinge of regret."