Baltimore County officials on Monday became the latest in Maryland to declare prosecutors would not cooperate in extraditing anyone who travels to the state for abortion care from one where it is banned.
On Monday, County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. and State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger issued a joint statement saying Baltimore County is “committed to protecting the right of all women, regardless of where they are from, to access reproductive health care and safe abortion services.”
To that end, the statement said, prosecutors in the state’s attorney’s office won’t “participate in or assist in the extradition” of anyone in connection with other states’ abortion bans.
“Under Maryland law, access to abortion remains protected, and we are committed to fully upholding these laws and protecting the rights of women,” the statement said.
The U.S. Supreme Court last month overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision making abortion a constitutional right, sending the power to regulate abortions to the states.
Maryland has begun to prepare for a wave of demand from residents of states expected to ban or significantly restrict abortion access.
Baltimore County’s Monday announcement follows others from Maryland state’s attorneys.
The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office last week similarly pledged not to cooperate with the extradition of anyone. It also went further and said it would not “cooperate with any investigative efforts to identify providers.”
Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy added it is the position of his office that no state has the authority to criminalize a person coming to Maryland for a medical procedure.
Last month, the top prosecutors from Baltimore and Prince George’s County came together to announce both jurisdictions would be “safe spaces for abortion access.”
Both Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said they would not prosecute an individual or healthcare provider that receives, conducts or facilitates an abortion, according to a news release.
Mosby said in the release she and Braveboy were “doubling down” and pledging not to “criminalize personal medical decisions” or healthcare provider that “dutifully assist them in this process.”
The joint statement said the two top prosecutors would also be monitoring crimes in or around abortion providers’ facilities, along with any crimes targeting someone who is pursuing an abortion.
The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, an advocacy organization, praised McCarthy’s step last week, calling it vital for survivors seeking abortion. It added that his policy, including not identifying abortion providers, was important for “rape crisis centers, advocates, health care providers and others helping women access abortion care.”
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MCASA called on all of Maryland’s state’s attorneys to do the same.
Shellenberger, the Baltimore County state’s attorney, is facing his first primary challenge since winning office in 2006. Challenger Robbie Leonard said last week after McCarthy’s statement that “our current State’s Attorney in Baltimore County would never take this position,” but that it’s one he’d publicly promised “multiple times.”
After Shellenberger and Olszewski’s joint announcement on Monday, Leonard noted it followed Baltimore City, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and his “repeated statements.”
“If Shellenberger weren’t facing his first primary since 2006, this wouldn’t be happening,” Leonard said. “Let’s keep pushing him.”
In Maryland, an abortion is permitted until the fetus is viable outside the womb. It’s permitted beyond that time to protect the health or life of the pregnant person or for a fetal anomaly.
A ballot referendum codified the standard in 1992. It is the most southern state to provide late term abortions.
The state also passed an Abortion Care Access Act in this year’s legislative session that expands who is allowed to perform abortions, sets aside money for training and requires the state’s Medicaid system and private insurers to cover abortions with limited exceptions.