Abortion remains legal in Maryland after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Friday overturning Roe v. Wade, but advocates and experts warned that the broad ruling could still have significant consequences here.
As other states enact abortion bans, Maryland is likely to become something of a sanctuary state for women seeking to terminate pregnancies, said Del. Ariana B. Kelly, D-Montgomery County.
Kelly helped pass a law this year that broadened the types of medical practitioners who can provide abortions to include nurse practitioners, certified midwives and physicians assistants.
“What this means for Maryland is we are going to see a massive increase in pressure on our provider network,” Kelly said. “Marylanders who are pro-choice need to brace ourselves, because in addition to providing care to Marylanders, we are going to be providing care for people across the country.”
Following Justice Samuel Alito’s sweeping decision Friday, more than a dozen states will have abortion bans on the books within the next 30 days, according to The Washington Post. Other states are expected to follow quickly.
Many states in the south and Midwest are likely to limit abortion, which could put additional pressure on Maryland providers.
The right to abortion is protected under state law in Maryland. Efforts to enshrine the right in the state Constitution, however, have failed to pass out of the legislature in recent years.
House Speaker Adrienne Jones, who this year sponsored a bill that would have put a constitutional amendment up for a vote, vowed to continue pushing for the added protection.
“I will continue to put the full weight of my office behind a Maryland constitutional amendment to protect women’s healthcare and reproductive liberty,” Jones said in a statement. “The recent decisions of the Supreme Court are dragging America backwards. We cannot and will not give up. Now is the time to mobilize for the country we all deserve.”
A huge majority of Marylanders favor keeping abortion legal, though they are divided on whether abortion should be legal in all circumstances or only in some circumstances, a 2021 poll found.
Current Maryland law prohibits the state from interfering with a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus is viable (generally at about 24 weeks), if an abortion is needed to protect a woman’s life or health, or if the fetus has a serious abnormality.
Kelly’s law also created a $3.5 million annual appropriation for abortion care training. Gov. Larry Hogan withheld the funding this year, effectively putting off the first allocation until 2023.
Kelly called for Hogan to release the funding now, given the expected need for qualified abortion providers in Maryland.
“We need it to happen today,” Kelly said.
In an email, a spokesperson for Hogan said the governor would not release the funds early.
The fallout from Friday’s Supreme Court decision could also have other consequences for Maryland, according to Margaret E. Johnson, a law professor and co-director of the Center on Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
The 6-3 decision creates the possibility of a federal ban on abortion that could preempt Maryland’s protections, she said. The ruling also does not provide for an exception that would allow for abortions in the case of rape or incest, or when the health of a mother is at risk.
Other states could also enact more sweeping bans that prohibit women from traveling to states that offer abortions, like Maryland.
And, ultimately, the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion could open the door to other major rulings based on the rejection of a Constitutional right to privacy, such as same-sex marriage.
“This is demolition day, on the Supreme Court, of the right to privacy and liberty that so many rights are based upon,” Johnson said. “It’s just the beginning.”