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Maryland House Speaker Proposes Putting Abortion Rights in Constitution

February 22, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
<strong></img>Maryland House Speaker Proposes Putting Abortion Rights in Constitution</strong>
The Maryland General Assembly, Adrienne A. Jones at the podium. (Photo Adrienne Jones' Twitter account)

BALTIMORE — Maryland’s speaker of the House is trying to turn abortion rights into a state constitutional amendment.

If the proposal from Adrienne A. Jones wins quick general assembly approval, Maryland would become the first state to make abortion a constitutional right.

Jones wants to get her proposed amendment onto the ballot for next November, she said at a press conference last week.

“This is a fundamental issue of liberty that cannot and should not be chipped away or bargained for,” Jones, D-Baltimore County, said as female lawmakers and Planned Parenthood of Maryland officials stood nearby.

Jones is trying to preempt a U.S. Supreme Court ruling scheduled for this summer that could overturn Roe v. Wade. The landmark decision says the Fourth Amendment protects a pregnant woman’s right to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

Indications from oral arguments hint the Supreme Court might make abortion a matter of state discretion under the 10th Amendment.

The impending ruling has set off a wave of bills in state legislatures. States with Republican majorities generally favor outlawing abortion. Predominantly Democratic states — like Maryland — propose legal guarantees for abortion rights.

Twenty states already enacted laws to restrict or ban abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The most restrictive is Texas.

More than a dozen states have laws to protect women’s abortion rights. The Maryland General Assembly approved its law in 1991.

Surveys in Maryland show 64% of voters say abortion should be legal in most cases.

Jones’ proposed amendment would guarantee “the fundamental right to reproductive liberty” and forbid state laws that seek to ban it.

So far, Vermont is the only other state to consider abortion rights as a state constitutional amendment. The state’s governor is considering an initiative to put it on the ballot for next November.

Tom can be reached at tom@thewellnews.com

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