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Six Maryland rallies planned to oppose bans and restrictions on abortions

Abortion rights supporters plan rallies Tuesday in Maryland as part of a national movement to push back against bans on the procedure, which may end up before the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, shown in this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo.
Abortion rights supporters plan rallies Tuesday in Maryland as part of a national movement to push back against bans on the procedure, which may end up before the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, shown in this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Supporters of abortion rights plan rallies Tuesday in Maryland as part of a national movement against abortion bans.

The rallies, which are using the social media hashtag “#stopthebans,” are aimed at raising awareness of state laws being passed around the country that restrict or ban the medical procedure that ends a pregnancy. Dozens of organizations are supporting and promoting the rallies.

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“The idea is that having an organized, 50-state response should deliver a very firm message about how people feel about this issue, that no matter what state you live in, access to abortion care is a human right,” said Diana Philip, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland.

The “flagship” rally will be held in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington — which is where the issue may ultimately land. Some of opponents of abortion have said they hope one or more of the recently enacted state laws will result in a court challenge, potentially leading to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. In that case, the court held that women have the right to chose to have an abortion.

The six rallies scheduled in Maryland, are:

» Baltimore: 6 p.m. at War Memorial Plaza, 100 Holliday St.

» Towson: Noon at Patriot Plaza, 401 Bosley Ave.

» Annapolis: 6 p.m. at Whitmore Park, 34 Calvert St.

» Frederick: 6 p.m. at 12 E. Church St.

» Ocean City: Noon at 162 Sunshine Lane.

» Rockville: 6 p.m. at the Stella Werner Council Building, 100 Maryland Ave.

While Maryland has a history of supporting abortion rights — a ballot question in 1992 codified the Roe v. Wade decision in Maryland law — there was a surge this year in anti-abortion bills introduced in the General Assembly, Philip said. There were 15 bills this year, all defeated, compared to five or six in a typical year, she said.

“We have to stop thinking of this as another state’s problem,” Philip said.

“Marylanders are fortunate because state laws guarantee our access to abortion,” Karen J. Nelson, co-CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates for DC, Maryland and NoVa, said in a statement. She said that Maryland residents should speak out against the states that are “passing abortion restrictions at an unprecedented pace.”

Maryland lawmakers passed a bill this year that would prevent the state from accepting federal aid for family planning known as Title X, if the federal government prohibits participating doctors from talking to pregnant patients about options such as abortion, according to Planned Parenthood.

The so-called “gag rule” is tied up in court, but if it goes into effect, the Maryland legislation would require the state to have its own family planning program for low-income residents.

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Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has until the end of the week to make a decision on the bill. He can veto it, sign it into law or allow it to become law without his signature.

“The governor continues to give this legislation thoughtful consideration,” said Mike Ricci, a spokesman for Hogan.

The late House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch had introduced a bill this year that would have asked voters to put the right to have an abortion into the Maryland Constitution. Busch, a Democrat, reluctantly withdrew the bill this year and vowed to try again in 2020. He died in April.

New Speaker Adrienne Jones has said she will “most likely” push to protect abortion rights in the state constitution.

Meanwhile, state Comptroller Peter Franchot, also a Democrat, has asked the state’s retirement and pension system to investigate whether it has any investments or business relationships in Alabama, which approved a restrictive abortion ban last week.

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