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Democrats hopeful abortion will become an issue in first congressional district race

Anti-abortion-rights advocates demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court early Monday.
J. Scott Applewhite
Anti-abortion-rights advocates demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court early Monday.

The two Democrats running to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Harris in Maryland’s most conservative congressional district are banking government overreach is more important to voters than religious objection to abortion.

Democrats suggested that many residents will oppose Friday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Roe v. Wade and that the ruling makes Congressional races more critical this year.

“There is a minority in the district that will celebrate this Supreme Court decision, but I think most people don’t want big government in the middle of their health decisions,” said Dave Harden, who is running for the Democratic nomination in the first congressional district. “It puts the government in the middle of the most intimate decisions one can make.”

The first congressional district includes the Eastern Shore as well as Cecil and Harford Counties and a portion of Baltimore County. There is only one abortion clinic in the district, a Planned Parenthood in Easton.

Heather Mizeur, a former state legislator who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2014, also is aiming for the Democratic nomination to oppose the incumbent in the fall. Mizeur said the abortion rights decision raises the stakes in Congressional races.

“Anti-choice politicians like Andy Harris are going to do everything they can to escalate this at the national level by implementing a ban that would take away the right that we still hold on to in the state of Maryland,” Mizeur said.

“Make no mistake, they’re not going to stop with abortion,” Mizeur continued. “Extremists are putting rights regarding all of our intimate personal choices on the table. They want to take another look at laws related to contraception, same sex marriage, even sodomy laws.”

Harris, a member of the pro-life caucus in Congress, declined to comment for this story. Harris posted on Twitter his reaction to the abortion ruling.

"The Supreme Court got it right in overturning the incorrectly decided decades-old Roe opinion that treated young human life as not worthy of protection under our Constitution," Harris wrote. "It is my hope that this decision will be respected on the legal merits upon which it was written."

Harris is seeking a seventh term. In 2020, he won with more than 63 percent of the vote. The lines of the district were redrawn earlier this year but is still considered a Republican-leaning district.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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