More than a thousand anti-abortion advocates flooded downtown Annapolis to rally against legislation poised to broaden access to and increase protections for abortion care in Maryland.
”We have to speak for those who cannot,” said Gloria Purvis, an anti-abortion speaker and podcaster. “That includes the child in the womb; that includes the person at the end of their life; that includes the person in difficult circumstances right now that are not heard. We are their voices.”
Anti-abortion advocates stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a chilly February rain Monday evening, nearly spilling off the sidewalk onto College Avenue for the 44th annual Maryland March for Life rally. It was the first in Annapolis since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the legal precedent set by the Roe v. Wade case, leaving states to determine their own policies regarding abortion access.
The Rev. Patrick Mahoney is the chief strategy officer for Stanton Public Policy Center, which lobbies in opposition to abortion. He said that June 24, 2022, the day the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, was a day he’ll “never forget.”
But to him, the work isn’t finished.
”Although we have overturned Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court, it has not been overturned in the hearts of millions of Americans,” he said. “It’s been not overturned in our institutions. It’s been not overturned at the State House.”
This legislative session, Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat, and leadership in the General Assembly are rallying behind bills to ensure that access to abortion care services for Marylanders and those traveling from out of state remains available. The package includes:
- A bill that would protect patients and abortion care providers from criminal, legal and administrative penalties brought by states with more restrictive laws.
- Legislation that would require permission from patients before any medical records relating to abortion are released.
- Legislation to enshrine access to abortion in the state constitution.
Sponsored by House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones of Baltimore County and Senate President Bill Ferguson of Baltimore, both Democrats, the bill to amend Maryland’s constitution is a carry-over from legislation introduced during the 2022 session — before Roe was overturned. Jones sponsored last year’s bill, which did not receive a vote on the Senate floor. Jones and Ferguson sponsored the bills this year in their respective chambers.
If passed, Marylanders would vote in 2024 on whether to enshrine a “fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” including the ability to “prevent, continue or end one’s own pregnancy,” without interference from the state. Though the word abortion isn’t in the bill, its protection is implied under the right to end a pregnancy.
Maryland Policy & Politics
”They talk about abortion as a human right. I’m like, ‘A human right is never a human wrong,’” Purvis declared. “Abortion goes against the very nature of what it is to be a female and that is to be able to bear a child.”
All three bills will receive hearings this week. An additional bill, which would provide Maryland college students with access to emergency contraception and abortion services through their schools, was heard in both chambers earlier this month.
A November poll by Baltimore Sun Media and University of Baltimore found that 71% of likely Maryland voters believed abortion access should be enshrined in the state constitution.
Mahoney and Purvis stood behind the position that lawmakers should focus on assisting those who are pregnant and facing tough financial situations rather than expanding access to abortion. Purvis said abortion is equivalent to “kill[ing] the poor.”
”We need to think about the things that they are shoving down our throats to try to get us to buy into this violent act that destroys the mother, destroys the child and, frankly, also destroys the father,” she said.
Mahoney told people in the crowd that they can outlaw abortion in Maryland if they persevere in the face of the legislature’s proposed policies, just as they did after 49 years of fighting Roe v. Wade.
”That’s why we must continue to pray, march, rally, lobby, vote, serve women with unexpected pregnancies and, above all, never grow weary in well-doing,” he said.