Maryland’s Democratic speaker of the House is seeking to codify abortion protections into state law to ensure that women will be able to access abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
“If [voters] decide that this becomes part of the constitution, a woman’s right to choose will never be debated; it will never be a bargaining chip,” said House Speaker Michael E. Busch, announcing his plan to amend Maryland’s law so that women in the state will be able to abort no matter the status of federal law, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Busch plans to introduce legislation that will ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment preserving a woman’s legal right to abort. The legislation will protect a woman’s ability to abort up until viability — largely considered 23 weeks gestation — as well as a woman’s ability to abort a baby that will be born with a genetic defect. The amendment would also protect the right to abort in order to save the mother’s life.
The initiative comes after Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court, instilling fear in liberals that the court will overturn Roe v. Wade. Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing will take place in September, according to the latest reports.
Pro-abortion groups applaud the move as a pro-active measure that will ensure women’s health care rights remain safe. “We absolutely have to take seriously the opportunity to extend protections,” NARAL Pro-Choice America deputy director Leslie McGorman said, WaPo reported. “We’re really looking for other states to follow the lead of Maryland and Massachusetts,” she added.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker repealed a 19th century law banning abortion on July 27. The Republican also signed a law in November protecting women in the state from changes in birth control coverage made at the federal level. The law ensures access to a number of birth control methods as well as the morning-after pill at no cost.
Other Marylanders aren’t so happy about the attempt to codify abortion rights into state law. “The proposed abortion initiative is an unconscionable waste of the political energy and enthusiasm needed to address the real issues affecting women in our state,” Maryland Catholic Conference Executive Director Jennifer Briemann said, according to WaPo.
Busch indicated the amendment will likely appear on the ballot in the next presidential election.
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