© 2024 WYPR
WYPR 88.1 FM Baltimore WYPF 88.1 FM Frederick WYPO 106.9 FM Ocean City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

2024 Voter referendum on abortion rights gets first OK in Maryland General Assembly

Maryland House of Delegates in session in 2023.
Matt Bush
Maryland House of Delegates in session in 2023.

The Maryland House gave initial approval Wednesday to sending an amendment to the state constitution protecting abortion rights to voters next year. A final vote in the House could come later this week.

Voters via a referendum on the 2024 ballot would decide whether Maryland residents have a ‘fundamental right to reproductive freedom’, which would include the right to end one’s own pregnancy. The state would also be prohibited from "denying, burdening, or abridging" that right if voters approve.

Prince George’s County Democratic Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk urged her colleagues to support the measure creating the referendum.

“This bill is about the right of a woman to make the fundamental decision about her own pregnancy,” Peña-Melnyk said. “This bill is about giving Marylanders the decision about the fundamental right of reproductive freedom [and] should it be enshrined in our state constitution. It is the highest level of protection we can give.”

House Republicans offered three amendments to the bill Wednesday, and each was defeated along party line votes.

The Senate is scheduled to take up its own version of the bill Thursday after Republican leaders in the chamber asked for a day’s delay to craft their own amendments.

Gov. Wes Moore spoke in support of the bill at the press conference where it was announced earlier this session, so if it makes it through both chambers he will sign it.

Matt Bush spent 14 years in public radio prior to coming to WYPR as news director in October 2022. From 2008 to 2016, he worked at Washington D.C.’s NPR affiliate, WAMU, where he was the station’s Maryland reporter. He covered the Maryland General Assembly for six years (alongside several WYPR reporters in the statehouse radio bullpen) as well as both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. @MattBushMD
Related Content