Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) and Democratic lawmakers are moving to make the state a “safe haven for abortion” in the aftermath of the end of Roe v. Wade and more than a dozen states moving to severely restrict access to the procedure.
Moore, Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, the leaders of the state House and Senate and other state lawmakers announced a legislative package to expand protections for reproductive rights at a press conference on Thursday.
“As long as I am governor, our home will be a safe haven for abortion access,” Moore said. “While some states have decided to move toward restricting reproductive rights, I can assure you, we will protect them.”
Abortion is currently protected in Maryland at least to the point of viability, but one proposed bill would create a ballot measure to specifically enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution.
Ballot measures to add abortion protections to the state constitution passed in Vermont and California in November, and voters in Montana, Kansas and Kentucky all rejected restrictions on the procedure last year.
A second proposal would establish protections for patients, medical providers and those supporting others who come from out of the state seeking reproductive health services from criminal, civil and administrative actions from states with strict abortion regulations in place.
Other proposals would add privacy protections for medical records to reduce the risk of criminal or civil actions for out-of-state patients receiving care and require the state’s public higher education institutions to develop reproductive health access plans to provide or refer students for a “full range” of reproductive health and support services.
A release announcing the bills says that they will stop states that have banned or significantly restricted abortion from intimidating people away from seeking medical care in Maryland, as well as remove barriers to access for students.
“Governor Moore is not going to leave this to chance; he will work day and night to protect reproductive rights in Maryland,” Miller said. “These bills will solidify the future of reproductive freedoms in Maryland.”
Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones said adding reproductive rights to the state constitution will send a message that access to care “should never be up for debate.”
The Washington Post reported that the constitutional amendment proposal needs to receive support from three-fifths of both houses of the state legislature to be placed on the 2024 ballot.
The state House Republican Caucus said in a statement that Maryland does not need an amendment enshrining abortion protections, the Post reported.
“Moreover, we believe that most Marylanders would prefer a middle course on this issue, and permitting late-term elective abortions — as this amendment appears to allow — is outside the mainstream views of our citizens,” the statement reads.