The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday issued a majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that federally protected the right to have an abortion.
Local, state and federal officials from Maryland largely condemned the Supreme Court’s decision Friday.
The Court heard arguments in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in December. A draft opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, was leaked in May and published by Politico.
Abortion remains legal in Maryland, where voters in 1992 approved a state law protecting abortion care.
A Goucher College Poll in October 2021 found that nearly nine out of ten of Marylanders support keeping abortion legal, though they were split evenly over whether that protection should cover “all circumstances” or “only under certain circumstances.”
But more than half of the states could ban or restrict access to safe and legal abortions, according to The Wall Street Journal. That could impact Maryland’s ability to provide abortions, both to Maryland residents and to the expected influx of out-of-state people who will have to travel to receive a safe and legal abortion.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott on Friday announced that the city would provide $300,000 in grants to organizations that offer abortion and family planning services.
“A woman’s decision about what to do with her own body is a fundamental human right,” Scott said in a statement. “It is crucial that we invest in abortion and family planning so that we can welcome women seeking these services with open arms. We are morally obligated to make Baltimore a safe haven for care-seekers, and we are committed to doing just that.”
Scott promised to ensure Baltimore City maintains safe access to abortion and called on mayors in other cities to do the same.
“Today the court has taken aim at women and their right to make fundamental health choices about their own bodies,” Scott said in a separate statement on Twitter. “This decision is especially harmful for Black Women and Women of Color who already face disparate health challenges and barriers to care. The court got it absolutely wrong again today. Men have absolutely no place deciding what women do with their bodies.
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
Scott also urged residents to “make sure your voice is heard on the ballot” in the upcoming elections. Maryland’s primary election is July 19. Resources about voting can be found here.
Baltimore City Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa said the rollback of abortion access in many states will have disproportionately negative impact on people of color.
“As a black woman, a mother, and HBCU trained clinician, I know that today an even heavier burden was placed on the backs of women who look just like me,” Dzirasa said. “The health disparities for women of color are appalling. According to the CDC, black women are more than three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. I fear that these outcomes will worsen in states where women of color are denied access to these critical services.”
While the city’s health department does not provide abortions, Dzirasa gave a list of resources for abortion services and financial assistance for getting an abortion.
Democratic members of Maryland’s congressional delegation denounced the Court’s ruling.
U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin tweeted “Overturning a half-century of precedent, the Supreme Court turns a constitutional right into a crime for tens of millions of women. Its legitimacy gone, the Court should take up residence with the RNC, which defines its agenda.”
Overturning a half-century of precedent, the Supreme Court turns a constitutional right into a crime for tens of millions of women. Its legitimacy gone, the Court should take up residence with the RNC, which defines its agenda. — Rep. Jamie Raskin (@RepRaskin) June 24, 2022
U.S. Rep. David Trone called the Supreme Court’s decision “a monumental step backward in the fight for gender equality.” He added that rolling back abortion access will not prevent abortions from happening; it will only prevent safe abortions.
“History shows that limiting abortion access often forces women to resort to unsafe means to end unwanted pregnancies — including self-inflicted bodily harm and ingestion of dangerous chemicals — resulting in permanent injury or death,” Trone said. “History shows that limiting abortion access will sentence millions of women — the majority of whom are already parents — to a life of increased economic hardship and reduced opportunity to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families.”
I am deeply troubled by the #SCOTUS decision to overturn #RoeVWade. This news is heartbreaking, but it’s not the end. Full statement⬇️ pic.twitter.com/qM9CUH4QxH — Rep. David Trone (@RepDavidTrone) June 24, 2022
U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, who is the House Majority Leader, said it was a “dark day” in America.
“Today is a dark day for the privacy of everyone in America and the freedom of women to make their own health care decisions,” Hoyer said in a statement. “In striking down Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court’s Republican-appointed justices ignored nearly five decades of precedent and clear Constitutional principles.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said states’ restrictions on abortions are invasions of privacy.
“This is a results-driven ruling, not a rule of law decision & it undermines SCOTUS’ legitimacy. The American people don’t want state elected officials telling them what to do in their most private & personal decisions. Congress must act now to protect reproductive freedom,” Van Hollen said.
This is a results-driven ruling, not a rule of law decision & it undermines SCOTUS’ legitimacy. The American people don’t want state elected officials telling them what to do in their most private & personal decisions. Congress must act now to protect reproductive freedom. https://t.co/WZks4XPNiE — Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) June 24, 2022
SCOTUS has thrown aside the Constitution & is instead forcing its ideological beliefs down the throats of the American people. This #RoeVWade decision not only overturns the law that has been in place for almost 50 years – it flies directly in the face of the will of our country. — Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) June 24, 2022
For this Supreme Court majority and for right-wing Republicans, the Handmaid’s Tale is not just a book or show, it’s a plan. We the People must mobilize because today’s SCOTUS #RoeVWade decision is just step one. — Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) June 24, 2022
U.S Sen. Ben Cardin had similar criticisms over this morning’s announcement.
“History will show the #DobbsvJackson decision as one of the worst decisions of #SCOTUS. Congress, @POTUS and state governments must take action to protect the reproductive and health rights of Americans,” Cardin said on Twitter. “There should be a common standard protecting the right of self-determination of health decisions for women and individuals, regardless of what state you live in today.”
There should be a common standard protecting the right of self-determination of health decisions for women and individuals, regardless of what state you live in today. — Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) June 24, 2022
U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, the lone Republican in Maryland’s congressional delegation, said “the Supreme Court got it right.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Baltimore native who has been a champion of reproductive rights throughout her career, also spoke out on Twitter against the ruling.
“A woman’s fundamental health decisions are her own to make, in consultation with her doctor & her loved ones – not to be dictated by far-right politicians. While Republicans seek to punish & control women, Democrats will keep fighting ferociously to enshrine Roe v. Wade into law,” reads a section of Pelosi’s thread in response to the ruling.
A woman’s fundamental health decisions are her own to make, in consultation with her doctor & her loved ones – not to be dictated by far-right politicians. While Republicans seek to punish & control women, Democrats will keep fighting ferociously to enshrine Roe v. Wade into law. — Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) June 24, 2022
Pelosi’s statement come one month after Salvatore Cordileone, the Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, prohibited Pelosi from receiving Communion at her San Francisco parish due to her stance on abortion.
Maryland State Sen. Jill Carter said “it is surreal that our country has regressed to before we were 50 years ago.”
When I was a kid I thought The Supreme Court was the pinnacle of justice & the Justices were the highest humans on earth. That the #scotus has fallen from the eminence of a MARSHALL, BRENNAN, Burger https://t.co/8TB6H2cVrh to the ersatz robes we have today, is rather horrifying — Senator Jill P. Carter (@jillpcarter) June 24, 2022
Maryland State Sen. Shelley Hettleman proposed a series of actions that Maryland can take to protect abortion access, including supporting groups like Planned Parenthood of Maryland and Baltimore Abortion Fund.
Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones said the Court’s decision “will put women’s lives in jeopardy across America.” But Jones assured Marylanders that their right to get an abortion will not be limited.
I will continue to put the full weight of my office behind a Maryland constitutional amendment to protect women’s healthcare and reproductive liberty. — Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (@SpeakerAJones) June 24, 2022
Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson said the fight to protect abortion rights must 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.
Women from states that plan to or have already restricted access to abortions will likely come to Maryland for reproductive care, Ferguson said.
“While many may now question the future of reproductive rights in America, in Maryland, that right will always be protected and enshrined in State law,” he said. “We will welcome those who seek care in our State.”
While many may now question the future of reproductive rights in America, in Maryland, that right will always be protected and enshrined in State law. We will welcome those who seek care in our State.
See my full statement here: pic.twitter.com/b4XwQfuPp7 — Bill Ferguson (@SenBillFerg) June 24, 2022
During last legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly provided $3.5 million in the state budget to train additional healthcare workers to be abortion providers. Lawmakers overcame a veto by Gov. Larry Hogan, who opposes abortion.
But Hogan has used his budgetary power to withhold the funds from being released.
Ferguson said Hogan should release those funds to be used July 1, when other parts of the law will go into effect.
Hogan was silent on the Supreme Court decision Friday.
Baltimore Catholic Archbishop William E. Lori supported the Court’s decision, as did other members of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
“I think it’s good news for our nation. I think it is good news for the cause of life. And I also think it is a moment for us as Catholics, as believers, as people of goodwill, now to redouble our efforts to surround women in difficult pregnancies with love and care and services. So it is both a victory but also a day of challenge,” Lori said in a statement published by the Catholic Review.