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Maryland Puts Abortion Politics Before Patients
Laura Bogley, J.D.
Maryland Right to Life | 21 March 2023
Pro-life advocates stand guard as the Maryland General Assembly threatens to pass a bill to amend the Maryland Constitution and create a state fundamental right to “reproductive freedom”. If enacted, the state will ask voters to approve the amendment on the November 2024 general election ballot. While the term “reproductive freedom” is yet undefined, there is no question that the amendment would be used to suppress pro-life speech and action.
After nearly fifty years of federal abortion mandates, the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022) finally returned the power to restrict abortion to the states. But while many states are choosing to move forward with legislative protections for preborn human beings that reflect advances in medical science, the state of Maryland has taken a regressive and even oppressive approach to abortion.
Far surpassing former federal abortion precedent, the Democrat majority in the Maryland General Assembly has established a taxpayer-funded monopoly of the abortion industry over women’s reproductive health. While Wes Moore, Maryland’s newly installed Democrat governor and former CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, may be determined to add a state abortion amendment as a feather in his political cap, the reality is that he cannot steal this credit from the legislative branch.
House Bill 705, the so-called “Right to Reproductive Freedom” bill, which was passed last week by the Democrat majority in the House of Delegates, was sponsored by House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County) for the second time in two years. Similar bills have been introduced but thwarted by pro-life advocates three times in the previous four legislative sessions, including a 2020 privacy amendment and a 2019 bodily autonomy amendment sponsored by now deceased, longstanding Speaker of the House, Michael Busch (D- Anne Arundel County).
Maryland Right to Life led the grassroots coalition efforts to defend the unalienable right to life guaranteed by the Constitution against the three prior legislative attacks. During recent state legislative hearings, we testified that the abortion amendment would empower the state to weaponize our state Constitution and use the full force of state government to silence opposition and squeeze out any pro-life competition to the abortion empire’s death-on-demand agenda. We further cautioned lawmakers that the bill would deprive women of reproductive choices and access to lifesaving alternatives to abortion by threatening the very existence of pro-life pregnancy centers.
Many Republican lawmakers are asking why such an amendment is necessary considering that Maryland has some of the most liberal abortion policies in the nation.
Despite the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, abortion remains legal in Maryland through all nine months of pregnancy and for any reason, under the Maryland Freedom of Choice Act (1991). According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 81% of women in Maryland have access to an abortion provider in their county. At least two practices in the state perform late-term abortions of viable babies at the age of 26 weeks or older. Contrary to the fear-mongering often heard from abortion proponents, women in Maryland are not being threatened with prosecution for seeking an abortion nor are they being denied medical intervention for miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
But the state has long forsaken its promise of “safe, legal and rare” abortion, offering women and girls nothing more than unlimited access to abortion. The legislature has gone to such extremes to deregulate the abortion industry that they have removed abortion from the spectrum of healthcare in all ways except funding.
Democrat lawmakers have repealed criminal penalties and statutory restrictions on abortionists and abortion practices. Regulations on abortion clinics and practices are not routinely enforced, including mandatory reporter requirements in suspected cases of rape or sex trafficking. Physicians now serve only a tangential role on paper if at all, either as remote medical directors for abortion clinics or as remote prescribers of chemical abortion drugs.
As a result of this abortion extremism, the practice of abortion in Maryland has become the “red light district” of medicine, populated by dangerous, substandard providers. Through telabortion and the unregulated proliferation of “Do-It-Yourself” chemical abortion drugs, the abortion industry itself is exposing women to “back alley” style abortions, where they bleed alone without medical supervision or care.
Abortion is legal because it is lucrative and abortion is big business in Maryland. Maryland has become a state-sponsor of abortion, committing millions in taxpayer dollars to fund the largely unregulated abortion industry. This is despite the fact that a 2023 Marist poll reported that 60% of people oppose public funding for abortion.
Maryland taxpayers subsidize the abortion industry in Maryland through direct Maryland Medicaid reimbursements to abortion providers. According to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, state taxpayers paid more than $7.6 million in one year for Medicaid reimbursements to abortionists for nearly 11,000 elective abortions. While not publicly reported, Maryland Right to Life estimates that taxpayers pay more than $20 million each year to abortion providers and their network through various state contracts, departmental appropriations, and grants, including through the Maryland State Department of Education.
Abortion activists occupying the state legislature, including now-Senator Arianna Kelly, the former Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, have enacted extreme policies to establish Maryland as a national destination for abortion tourism. In 2022, then Delegate Kelly sponsored the Abortion Care Access Act, which reduced the standard of medical care by allowing non-physicians to be certified to commit both chemical and surgical abortions through birth. The Act forces taxpayers to pay $3.5 million each year to train this substandard abortion workforce and forces insurance companies to fully fund these abortion procedures. State regulations attached to the Act recommend an additional $12 million a year be added to the state budget to fully fund this abortion certification program.
While Maryland is one of only three states that shields abortionists by failing to report annual abortion data to the Centers for Disease Control, Maryland Right to Life estimates that over 30,000 children are killed through abortion violence each year in Maryland.
Abortion blood money is fueling political campaigns. In fact, the nation’s three leading abortion organizations reported spending $1.5 million to help Democrat candidates win the 2022 midterm elections. 60% of Maryland Democrat lawmakers were endorsed in the previous election by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).
During a January press conference, MDRTL warned Marylanders that by enacting the abortion amendment Maryland will no longer be known as the Free State, but the Free Abortion State. We challenged Governor Moore to find solutions for childhood poverty that don’t include killing poor children.
With pro-life legislators outnumbered three to one in the Maryland General Assembly, a legislative solution may be unlikely in Maryland. But pro-life advocates have demonstrated tenacity in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and are fully committed to providing essential support to women and families in need.
It is important to note that while the term “reproductive freedom” is not defined in Maryland law, the bill sponsors have stated that it would include new rights broader than abortion rights. Some of these new rights may include commercial uses of human embryos and transgender rights including the use of puberty-blocking drugs and surgical mutilation of genitalia- even among children.
 Schneider, Elena, “Pro-Abortion Rights Groups to Spend 150M on Midterms,” Politico, May 2, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/02/abortion-rights-groups-midterms-00028905.