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Maryland Soon Expanding Abortion Access, Could See Influx Of Patients If Supreme Court Overturns Roe V. Wade

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Maryland already has strong protections in place for abortion access and the General Assembly recently voted to expand that access. But analysts say the court's decision could have an impact far beyond abortion rights.

"If this opinion stands the way it is, it is possible that it could form the basis for challenges to other kinds of rights dealing with contraception and same-sex marriage," lawyer Adam Ruther with Rosenberg Martin Greenberg told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren.

The Supreme Court's leaked draft decision that could potentially overturn abortion protections has emotions running high. Many protested in Washington, D.C. 

About one hundred abortion rights advocates demonstrated Tuesday in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Baltimore.

Women in a growing number of states trying to restrict abortion could come to Maryland clinics if Roe is overturned. 

"If the draft opinion stands, what it means is women will live in two very different Americas," Loyola law professor Jessica Levinson said.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers voted to end the restriction that only doctors can perform abortions. The measure allows trained nurse practitioners, among others, to perform the procedure.

The law takes effect July 1st and provides millions in funding to expand access—overriding the governor's veto.

Maryland already codified abortion protections with a 1992 vote, guaranteeing support in state law.

Some other states are trying to restrict abortion access.

"What we'll have is essentially a patchwork of laws around the country state by state with different levels of protection," Ruther said.

Most of Maryland's Congressional delegation wants to keep Roe in place, and Democrats have vowed a vote in a divided senate.

"Every American is going to see on which side every senator stands," said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York).

President Joe Biden spoke in Maryland Tuesday calling the leaked draft decision "radical."

"I would say unprecedented is the proper word for it," Ruther said of the leak. "I can't remember a time that anything remotely resembling this level of disclosure came out of the Supreme Court in any way, shape or form. …This was an unusual view into the inner workings of the Supreme Court, and I think it's pretty unlikely we're going to get any more of this kind of depth of insight into the way the court works, particularly with regard to this case."

Chief Justice John Roberts has called for a criminal investigation into the leaked draft opinion. Politico was first to publish the draft by Justice Samuel Alito.

"This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the court and the community of public servants who work here," Roberts said in a statement Tuesday. "The work of the court will not be affected in any way," he said. "We at the court are blessed to have a workforce — permanent employees and law clerks alike — intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law. Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the court."

The Supreme Court also confirmed the authenticity of the document but stressed that the draft does not represent the final decision of the court.

"Although the document described in yesterday's reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case," the court said in a statement.

The draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, appears to have been circulated among the justices in February. But votes by the court's members can change as drafts are exchanged, and a decision is not final until it is handed down by the Supreme Court, in this case, by late June or early July.

The statement from the court notes that justices "circulate draft opinions internally as a routine and essential part of the court's confidential deliberative work."

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