It means access to safe, legal abortion and affordable contraception. It means protecting pregnant and parenting youth from educational discrimination. And it means supporting working parents by guaranteeing paid family leave.
At Pro-Choice Maryland, we fight to protect and expand these rights at every level of government—whether that means organizing our members to pressure lawmakers and corporations, working to elect pro-choice champions in our state, or engaging in public education around issues about reproductive freedom.
One of our key legislative priorities and areas of focus is HB 1171, the Declaration of Rights to Reproductive Liberty. HB 1171 has not passed both chambers in Maryland but has the chance to be passed in the upcoming legislative session.
Abortion is protected in the Maryland constitution under a statute which allows abortion in the state up until 22-24 weeks of pregnancy. However, there is no explicit right to reproductive liberty or abortion in Maryland’s constitution. Because of this, we need bold, all-encompassing legal rights to ensure all forms of reproductive care are protected in Maryland.
HB 1171 would guarantee a right to reproductive liberty to all Marylanders and allow them to continue, prevent, or end their pregnancy. It also prohibits Maryland from prohibiting or restricting any form of reproductive healthcare. It would firmly enshrine the right to abortion as well as the right to access pregnancy preventions like contraception, and the right to carry a pregnancy to term.
The way HB 1171 is structured now means that it would go to a ballot measure in Maryland. In order to become a ballot measure, HB 1171 would have to pass in both the Maryland state House and Senate with a 60% majority. If passed in the Maryland Legislature, the ballot measure would then be voted on by Marylanders in an upcoming election. If it passes, it would then be enshrined in the Maryland state constitution.
In some states where abortion is illegal, anti-abortion legislators are attempting to pass laws which criminalize providers and patients if they travel out of state to seek an abortion. Shielding laws have the power to protect providers and patients from any legal persecution based on other state’s laws.
In essence, shield laws “shield” anyone from abortion hostile states who seek abortions by traveling to a pro-abortion state. The function of shield laws is to protect out of state abortion patients and their providers from prosecution from other states.
With Democrats in charge of the executive branch with the election of Wes Moore as the new governor of Maryland, our state has a unique opportunity to safeguard abortion for our providers and out-of-state patients by introducing legislation that mirrors the shield laws that other pro-abortion states have already passed.