What does overturning Roe v Wade mean for Maryland

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In 1973, the Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it was a woman's Constitutional right to choose to have an abortion. On Friday, roughly 49 years later, the Supreme Court overturned that ruling in a 5-4 decision.

The implications of the decision are expected to reverberate to states like Maryland, which grappled with expanding access to the procedure as recently as the 2022 legislative session. The ruling may have less effect in Maryland than in other states though, due to state law.

“Thirty years ago, Marylanders voted to make abortion legal in Maryland,” said Republican candidate for governor, Kelly Schulz, a former state secretary of commerce, when asked about the issue on MPT’s State Circle program last week.

She added that while she is “personally pro-life,” any decision on Roe v. Wade from the Supreme Court will not change state law. “As governor, nothing will change with respect to current Maryland law on this issue,” said Schulz, walking the same path as two-term Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

In a largely preemptive move in 1991, the Maryland State Legislature approved measures to protect a woman’s right to have such a procedure should the highest court in the land ever overturn Roe. Voters approved the measure in 1992 with 62% of the vote.

Friday’s ruling does not change state law, but rather reinterprets the U.S. Constitution and puts the issue again before the people and lawmakers.

“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion,” the opinion delivered by Associate Justice Samuel Alito states. “The authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

In Maryland, abortion is not illegal

After the decision, more than a dozen states have statutes that may outlaw all or nearly all abortions. Maryland is not one of those states.

In April, the Maryland legislature passed a law expanding access to abortion by ending a restriction that only physicians provide them and requiring most insurance plans to cover abortions without cost.

The law removes a legal restriction preventing nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physician assistants from providing abortions. It created a training program that requires $3.5 million in state funding annually, starting in 2023.

The Senate gave the measure final passage in a 28-15 vote. The largely Democrat-controlled General Assembly voted to override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto on April 9.

Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, urged the governor again on Friday to use his discretion to release the funds for the training program July 1. Hogan has previously resisted calls to do so.

IN MARYLAND:Abortion access in Maryland: Democrats act quickly to override Gov. Hogan's veto

A state constitutional amendment designed to protect abortions failed earlier this year. The measure passed the House, but failed to advance in the Senate and was not brought before the state’s voters.

What's next

Mark Graber, regents professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, sees the ruling as a catalyst for more procedures in the short run.

"It could mean abortion clinics having more customers from other states," said Graber, in a May interview after a draft of the decision was leaked. "The only time this will matter is if Maryland becomes more pro-life and repeals abortion rights or if the country passes a national ban on abortion. Neither is likely in the near future, but you can never tell."

State Attorney General Brian Frosh, who voted for the measure to protect the procedure as a state legislator more than 30 years ago, said Friday that he was "proud of his vote."

"This decision overturning 50 years of precedent also threatens the rights of all Americans to make private decisions about their lives without government interference," said Frosh, in a statement.

NATION:Where the abortion fight goes from here: Roe overruled, but the battle will continue

MORE NATION:What does overturning Roe mean? What we know about the Supreme Court's abortion ruling.

Maryland’s House Speaker Adrienne Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, underscored the Supreme Court’s decision would not alter the law that increased abortion access enacted earlier this year.

“Here in Maryland, access to the full range of reproductive health services will not be limited by this decision,” said Jones, in a tweet.

During a Zoom call with reporters, Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen, saw Friday’s decision having an effect in a different way.

“This is going to be a big question in the upcoming elections around the country,” he said.

Dwight A. Weingarten is an investigative reporter, covering the Maryland State House and state issues. He can be reached at dweingarten@gannett.com or on Twitter at @DwightWeingart2.

This article originally appeared on Salisbury Daily Times: What does overturning Roe v Wade decision mean for Maryland