Maryland voters will have the chance to decide in 2024 whether their state constitution should include an unrestricted right to kill unborn babies in abortions.
On Thursday, the Maryland House of Delegates voted to give final passage to the pro-abortion ballot measure, FOX 5 reports. The vote was 98-38.
“While many states are choosing to move forward with legislative protections for preborn human beings that reflect advances in medical science, the state of Maryland has taken a regressive and even oppressive approach to abortion,” Maryland Right to Life responded in a statement about the bill earlier this month.
Maryland already allows unborn babies to be aborted for any reason up to birth, but the proposed constitutional amendment would make it more difficult for future state legislatures to pass any protections for unborn babies and mothers against abortion.
If a majority of voters approve the amendment in 2024, the Maryland Constitution would include a “fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” including abortion, and prohibit the state from “denying, burdening or abridging” that right.
Laura Bogley, executive director of Maryland Right to Life, expressed disappointment at the vote this week but said pro-life advocates will not give up hope.
“It goes without saying that we will have much work to do together over the next year and a half to launch a statewide ballot issue campaign against this amendment,” Bogley said in an email to supporters. “But I am encouraged by the strong partnerships we have developed over the last five years.”
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Here’s more from FOX 5:
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. That law was petitioned to the ballot and voters approved the right in 1992 with 62% of the vote. Advocates argue that adding the protection to the state constitution would make it even harder for opponents to try to strip away abortion rights in the future.
Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 in Maryland.
Meanwhile, abortion activists say more women have been traveling to Maryland for abortions this year. Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Dobbs v. Jackson, two new abortion facilities have opened in the state, including one that aborts viable, late-term unborn babies.
Bogley said the amendment would hurt the very people whom abortion activists claim to want to help: women. She said it also could be used to silence pro-life sidewalk counselors and shut down pregnancy resource centers that help mothers and babies in need.
“This bill would deprive women of reproductive choices and access to lifesaving alternatives to abortion by threatening the very existence of pro-life pregnancy centers,” she said.
For pregnant women and girls in need, the state offers “nothing more than unlimited access to abortion,” Bogley continued.
And while pro-abortion lawmakers claim abortion is health care, Bogley said state laws and policies do not treat it that way. Unlike other medical facilities, abortion facilities are not held accountable if they fail to meet basic health and safety standards, such as mandatory reporting of suspected sexual abuse or human trafficking, she said. Doctors no longer are required to be involved in abortions either, and do-it-yourself abortions are allowed via the abortion pill.
As a result, the Maryland abortion industry is “dangerous” and “substandard” — basically legal “back alley” abortions, Bogley said.
Abortion is basically unlimited in Maryland. Taxpayers are forced to fund elective abortions, and, according to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, they spend about $6.5 million to fund nearly 10,000 elective abortions annually. Millions more go to the abortion industry to teach sex education in public schools and train future abortionists.
The state does not collect abortion data, so it is not clear exactly how many unborn babies are killed there every year. Johnstons Archive reported an estimated 30,750 abortions in 2020 based on research from the Guttmacher Institute.
Since the Dobbs ruling in June, the pro-abortion movement has been trying to create a “right” to abort unborn babies in state constitutions through ballot initiatives. Vermont, California and Michigan passed pro-abortion constitutional amendments in November, and abortion activists are trying to advance similar measures in Connecticut, Ohio, Missouri and South Dakota.
Several states have pro-life constitutional amendments that voters passed in recent years, including Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Currently, 14 states are enforcing pro-life laws that prohibit or strictly limit the killing of unborn babies in abortions, and others are fighting in court to do the same. Pro-life leaders estimate tens of thousands of babies’ lives have been saved since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.
Polls consistently show a strong majority of Americans support legal protections for unborn babies, especially after the first trimester or once their heartbeat is detectable.