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Democrats tout state abortion rights, some prosecutors won’t criminalize seekers

Abortion-rights activists hold signs outside the Supreme Court on Oct. 4.
Dee Dwyer
Abortion rights and anti-abortion rights activists demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court

Maryland Democrats denounced the Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, while vowing to maintain abortion access in the state.

Attorney General Brian Frosh, who as a state senator, voted to codify abortion access in Maryland law 30 years ago, said he and fellow Democrats “will continue to champion the rights of women to make their own health care decisions.”

Senate President Bill Ferguson said that the move to protect abortion rights isn’t over.

“We must now continue this fight at the state level,” Ferguson said. “While many may now question the future of reproductive rights in America, in Maryland, that right will always be protected and enshrined in state law.”

Prosecutors in the city of Baltimore and Prince George’s county promised they would not charge people seeking abortion services with a crime.

Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby said she would “never criminalize personal medical decisions nor the healthcare providers who dutifully assist them in this process as a matter of law, policy and principle.”

Abortion is legal in Maryland but the state’s fetal homicide law is still on the books. The 2005 law enables prosecutors to consider an aborted fetus a murder victim but only for ‘viable’ fetuses, which is typically at the 24 week mark. Abortions in Maryland can be conducted later if the health of the pregnant person is at risk.

Prince George’s county state’s attorney Aisha Braveboy said that the county is a “safe space for women seeking reproductive healthcare.”

The city and county plan to monitor harassment of clinics and patients in their respective jurisdictions. Chief prosecutors in Orleans Parish, Louisiana; Travis and Dallas counties in Texas; Durham, North Carolina and Fairfax, Virginia pledged the same.

There are about two dozen abortion clinics across Maryland, most of which are concentrated in the Baltimore metro area while some rural counties have no abortion services available.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said he plans to ensure the city offers access to abortion services and is concerned about marginalized pregnant people.

“This decision is especially harmful for Black Women and Women of Color who already face disparate health challenges and barriers to care,” Scott said.

Baltimore city leaders earmarked $300,000 in grants to organizations which offer abortion and family planning services in response to the Supreme Court ruling.

U.S. Rep. David Trone, who represents parts of Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick and Montgomery counties, said that limiting abortion access doesn’t stop it from happening.

“It only prevents safe abortion,” Trone said. “We must enshrine access to abortion services into law.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said the nation’s highest court has “thrown aside the constitution and is instead forcing its ideological beliefs down the throats of the American people.”

“The Congress must act now to protect reproductive freedom,” Van Hollen said.

Sen. Ben Cardin predicted the decision would go down in history as one of the worst ever by the court.

“This is the first time that I can recall that the Supreme Court has moved backwards in protecting the individual against the abuses of the powerful,” he said. “And that's exactly what they did. They took away a woman's right to make her own decisions, and put that in the hands of state legislators. It’s outrageous.”

Both said they would co-sponsor federal legislation to protect a woman’s right to choose.

House Speaker Adrienne Jones said that the recent Supreme Court decision is “dragging America backwards” and that she’s not prepared to “give up.”

Kristen Mosbrucker is a digital news editor and producer for WYPR. @k_mosbrucker
Joel McCord is a trumpet player who learned early in life that that’s no way to make a living.
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