BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years in a decision by its conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Although Maryland has had abortion protections in place since the early 1990s, many state officials on Friday expressed disgust at the court's 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.
The Maryland General Assembly failed during the legislative session earlier this year to advance legislation enshrining the right to abortion in the state's constitution, a move supporters backed in anticipation of the Supreme Court's ruling. The House of Delegates passed the measure but it stalled in the Maryland State Senate .
In a statement, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said the fight for abortion access will continue at the state level.
"Today is a distressing day for Americans, especially women, as we witness the willful degradation of a long-held right to reproductive freedom and further erosion of trust in our country's highest Court," he said.
Ferguson said he anticipates many women will come to Maryland, "a State that understands the importance of the right to privacy and equality," in the coming weeks seeking the procedure.
State lawmakers did pass a law during the session that expands abortion access by allowing nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physician assistants with training to perform the procedure.
The legislature went on to successfully override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of the bill . The policy takes effect July 1.
An additional $3.5 million was allocated to train more healthcare workers to perform abortions, Ferguson noted, but the decision to release those funds next month falls to Hogan.
"Given today's Supreme Court decision, I am absolutely certain he should," Ferguson said.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D), who was a member of the House of Delegates in the 1990s when the state passed a law protecting abortion rights , said the ruling "rips away the fundamental right of women to control their own bodies," including survivors of abuse, rape and incest.
"Its harms will have disproportionate impact on women of color and those of low income, many of whom already lack meaningful access to affordable health care of any kind," said Frosh. "And even more broadly, this decision overturning 50 years of precedent also threatens the rights of all Americans to make private decisions about their lives without government interference."
He said his office "will continue to champion the rights of women to make their own health care decisions and to safeguard the right to privacy for all Marylanders."
Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), a candidate for governor, said Friday is "a dark day" for the country.
"The Supreme Court has just ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade in a stunning reversal of decades of legal precedent," he wrote in an email to supporters. "Abortion is now outlawed in at least 26 states, and the right to choose has been taken away for millions of women across the country."
If elected, Franchot said he would renew the push to have abortion rights enshrined in the state constitution and ensure undocumented Marylanders have access to the procedure.
"Abortion is healthcare, and everyone deserves the right to choose," he said.
Del. Dan Cox, who represents Carroll and Frederick counties and is running to be the Republican nominee for governor, thanked God, former President Donald Trump and the Supreme Court "for doing what is right" in a Facebook post .
"It's a day to rejoice," he remarked, saying he and his wife have for years "for the unborn."
Unsurprisingly, most elected officials in Maryland — where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 — were against the court's ruling in Dobbs.
U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-4th District), a candidate for attorney general, said the six justice in the majority overturned longstanding precedent, upended Constitutional liberties and put lives at risk across the country.
"Maryland must remain a safe haven for all seeking abortion services," he said. "With the expected rise in out-of-state patients, we must continue bolstering our health infrastructure and broadening the pool of professionals ready to provide this essential health care."
He joined Ferguson in calling on the governor to release the funds set aside to train healthcare workers, and like Franchot, said the right to an abortion should be written into the Maryland Constitution.
The state should also partner with like-minded states, abortions rights organizations and other allies, Brown said.
"History will judge this decision harshly – the fight isn't over," he said. "Over the course of our history, we see time and again the arc of history bending towards justice, but it doesn't bend on its own. It takes committed Americans standing up for what's right and for the freedoms and values we all believe in."
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) suggested the majority is forcing its right-wing views down the throats of Americans. A CBS News poll in May found two in three people want abortion in their state in most cases.
"This is a results-driven ruling, not a rule of law decision, and it undermines the Court's legitimacy," he said. "This decision not only overturns the law of our land that has been in place for almost fifty years – it also flies directly in the face of the will of our country."
Here are social media posts from other elected officials:
It is a dark day for our country. The Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will put women's lives in jeopardy across America. Here in Maryland, access to the full range of reproductive health services will not be limited by this decision.
— Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (@SpeakerAJones) June 24, 2022
Given today’s outrageous Supreme Court decision, it’s more important than ever that the legislature pass @SpeakerAJones ‘ proposed amendment to enshrine reproductive rights in the Maryland Constitution at our next legislative session.
— Delegate Eric Luedtke (@EricLuedtke) June 24, 2022
I am appalled by the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Men have absolutely no place deciding what women do with their bodies. Make sure to vote this election cycle if you support a woman's right to choose. pic.twitter.com/Sup74yIHpy
— Brandon M. Scott (@MayorBMScott) June 24, 2022
— Baltimore City State’s Attorney Office (@BaltimoreSAO) June 24, 2022
Reproductive rights are human rights. With this ruling, SCOTUS needlessly endangers the health of women and robs them of their right to make their own healthcare choices. https://t.co/FlVyVLKMZ9
— Johnny Olszewski, Jr. (@JohnnyOJr) June 24, 2022
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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