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Maryland Officials React To Supreme Court Overturning Roe V. Wade

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years in a decision by its conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Although Maryland has had abortion protections in place since the early 1990s, many state officials on Friday expressed disgust at the court's 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

The Maryland General Assembly failed during the legislative session earlier this year to advance legislation enshrining the right to abortion in the state's constitution, a move supporters backed in anticipation of the Supreme Court's ruling. The House of Delegates passed the measure but it stalled in the Maryland State Senate.

In a statement, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said the fight for abortion access will continue at the state level.

"Today is a distressing day for Americans, especially women, as we witness the willful degradation of a long-held right to reproductive freedom and further erosion of trust in our country's highest Court," he said.

Ferguson said he anticipates many women will come to Maryland, "a State that understands the importance of the right to privacy and equality," in the coming weeks seeking the procedure.

State lawmakers did pass a law during the session that expands abortion access by allowing nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physician assistants with training to perform the procedure.

The legislature went on to successfully override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of the bill. The policy takes effect July 1.

An additional $3.5 million was allocated to train more healthcare workers to perform abortions, Ferguson noted, but the decision to release those funds next month falls to Hogan.

"Given today's Supreme Court decision, I am absolutely certain he should," Ferguson said.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D), who was a member of the House of Delegates in the 1990s when the state passed a law protecting abortion rights, said the ruling "rips away the fundamental right of women to control their own bodies," including survivors of abuse, rape and incest.

"Its harms will have disproportionate impact on women of color and those of low income, many of whom already lack meaningful access to affordable health care of any kind," said Frosh. "And even more broadly, this decision overturning 50 years of precedent also threatens the rights of all Americans to make private decisions about their lives without government interference."

He said his office "will continue to champion the rights of women to make their own health care decisions and to safeguard the right to privacy for all Marylanders."

Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), a candidate for governor who was also a member of the House when the state codified abortion rights, said Friday is "a dark day" for the country.

"The Supreme Court has just ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade in a stunning reversal of decades of legal precedent," he wrote in an email to supporters. "Abortion is now outlawed in at least 26 states, and the right to choose has been taken away for millions of women across the country."

If elected, Franchot said he would renew the push to have abortion rights enshrined in the state constitution and ensure undocumented Marylanders have access to the procedure.

"Abortion is healthcare, and everyone deserves the right to choose," he said.

Maryland's sole Republican member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, said the court made the right decision.

"As I have long said, human life is worthy of protection from conception until it's natural end, and I am thankful that this ruling now affirms that," he said. "It is my hope that this decision will be respected on the legal merits upon which it is written."

Del. Dan Cox, who represents Carroll and Frederick counties and is running to be the Republican nominee for governor, thanked God, former President Donald Trump and the Supreme Court "for doing what is right" in a Facebook post.

"It's a day to rejoice," he remarked, saying he and his wife have for years fought "for the unborn."

His opponent, former Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, said the decision won't change anything in Maryland.

"As I have repeatedly said, while I am personally pro-life, the issue is settled law in Maryland and has been for 30 years since Marylanders voted on it," she said in a statement. "Despite fear-mongering from others, as governor, I'll do nothing to change current Maryland law."

The state's abortion law was petitioned to referendum and put to the voters during the 1992 presidential election. Marylanders approved Question 6, 62% to 38%.

Unsurprisingly, most elected officials in Maryland, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1, were against the court's ruling in Dobbs.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-4th District), a candidate for attorney general, said the six justices in the majority overturned longstanding precedent, upended Constitutional liberties and put lives at risk across the country.

"Maryland must remain a safe haven for all seeking abortion services," he said. "With the expected rise in out-of-state patients, we must continue bolstering our health infrastructure and broadening the pool of professionals ready to provide this essential health care."

He joined Ferguson in calling on the governor to release the funds set aside to train healthcare workers, and like Franchot, said the right to an abortion should be written into the Maryland Constitution.

The state should also partner with like-minded states, abortions rights organizations and other allies, Brown said.

"History will judge this decision harshly – the fight isn't over," he said. "Over the course of our history, we see time and again the arc of history bending towards justice, but it doesn't bend on its own. It takes committed Americans standing up for what's right and for the freedoms and values we all believe in."

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) suggested the majority is forcing its right-wing views down the throats of Americans. A CBS News poll in May found two in three people want abortion in their state in most cases.

"This is a results-driven ruling, not a rule of law decision, and it undermines the Court's legitimacy," he said. "This decision not only overturns the law of our land that has been in place for almost fifty years – it also flies directly in the face of the will of our country."

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin said Dobbs ranks as one of the worst decisions in the history of the court.

"The Supreme Court of the United States is supposed to be the last line of defense, protecting the rights of Americans and guaranteeing equal justice under the law for all," he said. "The highest court in the land, defenders of the Constitution, should never be the one deliberately taking away the rights of millions of people, knowing the dire consequences of putting them in the hands of state legislatures. Sadly, this is exactly what has happened this morning."

Here are social media posts from other elected officials:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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