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Maryland Democrats Propose a Constitutional Amendment to Guarantee Abortion Access

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Maryland Democratic lawmakers said Monday that they will support an amendment to the state’s constitution to “protect abortion rights” in the state, as well as other measures intended to expand abortion access in the event that the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

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According to a report from the Associated Press, if the measures are approved by the Maryland General Assembly, the constitutional amendment will go on the ballot for voters to decide in November. 

Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones, a Democrat, introduced the proposal, titled the “Right to Reproductive Liberty.” She told the AP that the Supreme Court of the United States “has allowed some of the most restricting abortion legislation we’ve seen in a generation.”

In December, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which surrounds a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi. It is the first case in years that could overturn Roe v. Wade, which was decided in 1973. A ruling for Dobbs is expected this summer. The Supreme Court also allowed Texas to enact an abortion ban once fetal heartbeat is detected, which occurs around six weeks gestation.

Jones added that restricting abortion, which she refers to as “family planning options” is “dangerous and unacceptable.”

The AP noted that Maryland Del. Ariana Kelley, a Democrat, is sponsoring a bill called the “Abortion Care Access Act” that would remove a legal parameter that does not allow nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and physician assistants from providing abortions. 

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Kelly told the AP that “it [the bill] treats abortion care as what it is: health care without any necessary political restrictions.”

Kelly added that the state is “going in the wrong direction” as the number of abortion providers in the state has dropped and population has increased. 

“That’s a 15% drop in the number of providers [from 1991 to 2022], while at the same time we have seen a 28% increase in the population, so we have clearly been going in the wrong direction,” Kelly said. Kelly is also pushing legislation that aims to provide “equitable access” to abortion, including through private insurance and Medicaid.

“It would require private insurance plans, except for those with legal exemptions, to cover abortion care and without cost sharing or deductibles,” the AP wrote.

Karen Nelson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Maryland, told the AP that “the threats to overturning Roe v. Wade are real and should be taken seriously” and that “this [abortion access]  needs to be a grave concern to all of us, because if we don’t take active steps now and we find ourselves in a world without Roe, those who have will continue to have and those who have not will continue to have none.”

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This week, I covered how lawmakers in Florida and Arizona moved forward on legislation to restrict abortion to 15 weeks gestation, similar to the Mississippi law at the center of the Dobbs case. 

During the debate over the 15-week threshold at the Florida House of Representatives, state Rep. Dana Trabulsy, a Republican from Fort Pierce, disclosed that she once had an abortion and has “regretted it every day since.”

“This is the right to life and to give up life is unconscionable to me,” Trabulsy stated.

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