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Maryland advocates look to legislative session to strengthen abortion protections

Maryland lawmakers stated they have been getting ready new laws to make sure that abortion and different reproductive providers stay accessible and inexpensive within the state.

Abortion rights supporters rallied on Legal professionals’ Mall in Annapolis Saturday. (Picture Maryland Issues / Josh Kurtz)

This content material was republished with permission from WTOP’s information companions at Maryland Issues. Join Maryland Issues’ free electronic mail subscription at the moment.

Abortion rights supporters rallied in all 50 states Saturday, together with in Annapolis, sounding the alarm over current legal guidelines proscribing girls’s entry to abortions and reproductive well being care.

Greater than 250 individuals gathered beneath brilliant sunshine at Legal professionals’ Mall in Annapolis to indicate their help for conserving abortion protected and authorized and supply their full-throated declaration that girls ought to management their very own our bodies.

“Bans off our our bodies” was a preferred signal at Saturday’s rally. A number of advocates made the case for strengthening abortion protections in Maryland, and a dozen elected officers spoke and declared their solidarity.

However restrictive new legal guidelines in states like Texas and Mississippi have been uppermost on the demonstrators’ minds, together with the very actual risk that the Supreme Court docket may overturn the Roe v. Wade choice that legalized abortion. A number of audio system Saturday warned that Marylanders can’t take the state’s well-established abortion protections with no consideration.

“Texas wrote a blueprint,” stated Del. Dana C. Jones (D-Anne Arundel).

Karen J. Nelson, govt director of Deliberate Parenthood of Maryland instructed the group that in legislatures throughout the nation, 600 abortion restrictions have been launched previously yr, and 90 have been enacted.

“2021 is essentially the most hostile yr for abortion providers since Roe was determined in 1973,” she stated. “Even in states like Maryland, we fear about entry … Authorized rights don’t all the time equal entry.”

A number of state policymakers recounted current efforts to solidify abortion protections and reproductive well being in Maryland, from a legislation that might restore any federal funding lower from Deliberate Parenthood with state {dollars} to efforts to withdraw state pension funds from Alabama firms after that state restricted abortion entry to legal guidelines boosting postpartum and prenatal care.

Lawmakers stated they have been getting ready new laws to make sure that reproductive providers stay accessible and inexpensive within the state.

In Maryland, abortion rights are enshrined in state legislation, because of a poll initiative that handed overwhelmingly in 1992. Eight months earlier than he died in 2019, then-Home speaker Michael E. Busch (D) floated the thought of placing a query on the 2020 statewide poll that might additional shield abortion rights by putting them within the state structure, however the proposal was briefly shelved.

Now some lawmakers need to revive the thought, and state Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) instructed the group at Legal professionals’ Mall that he’d help it if he’s elected governor in 2022.

Del. Ariana B. Kelly
Del. Ariana B. Kelly (D-Montgomery) plans to introduce laws subsequent yr to make abortion extra accessible and inexpensive in Maryland. (Picture Maryland Issues / Josh Kurtz)

In an interview, Del. Ariana B. Kelly (D-Montgomery), a former head of NARAL Professional-Selection Maryland, stated she plans to introduce a legislative bundle that may deal with abortion entry and affordability within the state. The laws would intention to make sure that the process stays inexpensive and it might search to extend the variety of educated abortion suppliers within the state. The laws would even be designed to erase the stigma of abortion in society.

“We’re nonetheless figuring out the small print,” Kelly stated, however added that after the current Texas abortion restrictions have been allowed to turn into legislation by the Supreme Court docket, Maryland lawmakers have begun to mobilize.

“I’ve been speaking to my colleagues over the interim and they’re actually on fireplace,” she stated. “All of them acknowledge that we’ve to do extra. It’s been because the Nineteen Nineties once we final made important abortion protects.”

However there shall be different laws as effectively. Del. Nicole A. Williams (D-Prince George’s) stated she has been engaged on a invoice for the previous two years that might make it unlawful to prosecute girls who search abortions or the individuals who assist them acquire it. That makes an attempt to handle a provision within the new Texas legislation that gives a $10,000 reward to anybody who studies an unlawful abortion or identifies the individuals who helped a lady get the process.

“We’re going to carry that ban right here to the State Home as a result of we’re going to maintain the road on abortion rights right here in Maryland,” she stated.

Different lawmakers plan to reintroduce laws that might elevate the authorized age for marriage in Maryland — which presently stands at 15.

“It’s unlucky that in 2021, we’ve to be right here,” Williams stated.

Those self same themes have been echoed all through the nation Saturday, the place 650 separate abortion rights rallies occurred.

“It’s our job to show ache into goal, to show ache into promise, and to show ache into energy,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Deliberate Parenthood, instructed the demonstration on the Nationwide Mall in Washington, D.C. “Our humanity and our dignity isn’t up for debate.”

Capital Information Service contributed to this report.