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Speaker Jones previews extensive reproductive rights legislation

Photo Courtesy AP/ Andrew Harnik

House Speaker Adrienne Jones previewed a package of reproductive rights legislation Monday, including a constitutional amendment that would protect a woman’s right to an abortion in Maryland.

The amendment, if passed by the General Assembly, would appear on the ballot this November. It is one of three bills Jones said that aims to expand and protect abortion access.

“Since the Supreme Court has allowed some of the most restrictive abortion legislation we've seen in a generation. Right now, more than 36 million women across the country could lose critical access to reproductive health care,” Jones said in a virtual press conference.

Restricting women's family planning options is dangerous and unacceptable. We will do everything we can to make sure that women's reproductive health care is always protected in Maryland,” she added.

Jones is sponsoring the House bill entitled the Right to Reproductive Liberty. If the bill successfully passes through the House and Senate before the end of the 2022 Legislative Session, it will appear as a ballot question in November.

Two other bills were discussed during the conference.

One would, among other aspects, expand the number of practitioners who can provide abortions in the state. The second would alleviate financial barriers to abortion by requiring it to be covered under certain health insurance plans.

Both bills are being co-sponsored by five Delegates, all Democrats: Bonnie Cullison and Ariana Kelly of Montgomery County, Joseline A. Pena-Melnyk of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties, Shane Pendergrass of Howard County, and Samuel Rosenberg of Baltimore City.

“The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation in 1991 to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Pendergrass said.

“Three decades later, we are still fighting to allow women to make medical decisions for themselves. These bills need to pass so women in Maryland have agency over their own bodies and health care decisions.”

Callan Tansill-Suddath is a State House Reporter for WYPR, where she covers the General Assembly.