Maryland Democrats Propose Enshrining Abortion Rights In State Constitution

Gov. Wes Moore speaks at the Board of Public Works meeting. Screenshot via @govwesmoore on Instagram.

What’s happening?

Several Maryland Democrats are sponsoring a state constitutional amendment to protect the right to an abortion, Scott Maucione reports for WYPR. To take effect, the amendment would need to be passed by Maryland lawmakers, signed into law by Gov. Wes Moore, and approved by Maryland voters via a referendum. 

What abortion-related protection laws does Maryland already have?

Maryland lawmakers passed a bill in 1991 that established the right to an abortion up until the fetus can survive outside of the womb, and despite opposition, voters approved the measure by a 2-1 margin in 1992. But the state also has a fetal homicide law, which allows an aborted fetus to be considered a homicide victim if it’s considered viable. 

During the last legislative session in 2022, members of the Maryland House of Delegates approved a bill that would amend the constitution to protect the right to an abortion, but the measure died in the state senate. But with a strong Democrat majority and a governor in favor of the initiative, the amendment could gain more traction. 

Lawmakers are also planning to introduce additional bills to protect abortion providers from prosecution in other states where abortion remains illegal—allowing Maryland doctors to provide abortion services to the expected influx of patients from other states without fear of punishment. 

Anything else I should know? 

The United States Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last year in a conservative majority, 6-to-3 ruling. The decision relegated the power to decide abortion rights to states, many of which instituted bans including Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Only three states, California, Colorado, and Vermont, have amended their state constitutions to protect abortion rights, though others have passed laws to safeguard abortion.

You can read more here. 

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