ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and state lawmakers are scheduled to announce support Thursday for measures protecting abortion rights, including a state constitutional amendment that would enshrine it.
House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, who are both Democrats, will join the governor at a news conference to show their support for a measure that would protect patients and providers in Maryland from criminal, civil and administrative penalties relating to abortion bans or restrictions in other states.
Maryland officials are expecting more women to travel to the state for abortions because of restrictions in other states after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year to strike down Roe v. Wade.
Democrats hold supermajorities in both houses of the General Assembly. It would take a three-fifths vote in both chambers to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot for voters to have the final say next year.
In November, Vermont became the first state to approve a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights.
The right to abortion already is protected in Maryland law. The state approved legislation in 1991 to protect abortion rights if the Supreme Court allowed abortion to be restricted. The Maryland law was petitioned to the ballot and voters approved the right in 1992 with 62% of the vote.
Moore, a Democrat, demonstrated his support for abortion rights soon after taking office last month, when he announced on his second day in office that he was releasing $3.5 million in state funds to expand abortion training, money that had been withheld by his predecessor, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
“We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: Maryland needs to be a state that is a safe haven for abortion rights,” Moore said when he announced the release of the money.
Last year, lawmakers enacted a law over Hogan’s veto to expand abortion access by ending a restriction that only physicians could provide abortions and requiring most insurance plans to cover abortion care without cost. The law removed a legal restriction preventing nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physician assistants from providing abortions.
The lawmakers also said this year they were supporting legislation to ensure public colleges and universities in Maryland have a plan for student access near campuses to birth control, including emergency contraception and abortion pills.
A data-privacy bill will aim to protect medical and insurance records on reproductive health in electronic health information exchanges.