Today marks a victory for the prolife movement in Maryland. A major pro-abortion bill was just pulled from the state Senate by the bill’s sponsor after our legal team filed written testimony and showed up to testify against it.
In a last-minute move, the sponsor of Maryland Senate Bill 664, which sought to amend Maryland’s constitution to include a right to “privacy” (often a euphemism in the law for abortion), pulled the bill from the agenda.
The day before the hearing, we supplied written testimony in opposition to the bill, and the day of the hearing, I traveled to the Maryland state capitol with a team from the ACLJ to give verbal testimony in opposition to it as well. Senate Bill 664 sought to amend Maryland’s state constitution to include an unlimited and “inherent right to privacy.” Now, this seemingly benign bill was dangerous because, as we stated in our written testimony:
“Privacy” is the same rubric under which the Supreme Court purported to find a constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 154 (1973) (“We, therefore, conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision”).
So, while advocates for and supporters of the bill argued that it was not at all related to abortion, we exposed the truth: “An express privacy amendment therefore might be read as an invitation to find a right to abortion under the state constitution.” The creation of such a right “would serve to invalidate common-sense state abortion-related laws that are supported by a majority of Americans.”
While “privacy” at one time – prior to Roe – did related to legitimate concerns about misuse of computer systems, wiretapping, and other government intrusion upon the private life of Americans, it has since become synonymous with “abortion.” In fact, the Supreme Court in Casey (a major abortion case subsequent to Roe) stated: “If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” Thus, without language included to specifically state otherwise, any amendment to include a right to privacy necessarily gives rise to a right to abortion.
In fact, we’ve seen this played out in other states whose constitutions include a right to privacy. As we pointed out in our written testimony:
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[T]he Alaska Supreme Court has interpreted the privacy provision in that state’s constitution to include a right to abortion. Moreover, the court found that the state constitution was even more protective of abortion than the U.S. Constitution. Alaska’s constitution had been amended in 1972 to include a provision for a right to privacy. This amendment was “prompted by a fear of the potential for misuse of computerized information systems,” yet was later used to create a “right” to abortion.
Similarly, the Supreme Court of California found that all women possess a fundamental constitutional right to choose abortion under the California constitutional privacy provision. The Florida Supreme Court has likewise interpreted Florida’s privacy provision.
We also pointed out that
not one of these state constitutions’ privacy clauses expressly mention abortion. Nonetheless, abortion advocates frequently use privacy clauses in state constitutions to advocate for a “right” to abortion under state law. For instance, in a 2013 Illinois case, abortion advocates argued that “because [the Illinois] state constitution contains an explicit right of privacy which the federal constitution does not have, the right to an abortion under [the Illinois] state constitution is broader than the right to an abortion under the federal constitution.” While the court in that case ultimately found that “any right to abortion in Illinois is clearly not grounded in the privacy clause of [the Illinois] state constitution,” other state courts have interpreted privacy to include a “right” to abortion.
As is clearly illustrated in these examples, any argument that claims “privacy” doesn’t include “abortion” in today’s culture is disingenuous and deceptive – or extremely naïve, at best.
We arrived at the state legislature ready to testify further in opposition to the bill. But the sponsor of the legislature pulled the bill moments before the hearing was set to begin. The Senator’s staff informed us that after reading our opposition to the bill – as well as others – their side was not prepared to defend it at that time. Instead of trying to debate the bill, they dropped it. That’s a win, pure and simple. Not all wins for life come this simply, but sometimes you just have to show up – prepared for battle.
While we are pleased with this week’s victory in Maryland, we are fully aware that this issue will rise again; not only in Maryland, but in states across the country. Abortion activists are constantly seeking ways to undermine the pro-life movement and to permanently legalize the murder of preborn children. We will remain ever vigilant, and continue to make sure that the unborn have a voice.
LifeNews Note: Benjamin Sisney writes for the ACLJ.