Dear Fellow Marylanders:
This Sunday, families across our country will come together to celebrate Mother’s Day and the beginning of National Women’s Health Week. Usually, this is an opportunity to recognize the mothers in our lives and the progress we have made in improving women’s health. This year, these celebrations have been overshadowed by the leak of a disturbing draft opinion from the Supreme Court. This draft decision from Justice Samuel Alito, while not final and not surprising, shows the majority of the court is intent on striking down Roe v. Wade.
If the draft opinion stands, it will put the health, well-being and constitutional rights of women in great jeopardy. People in more than a dozen states would immediately lose access to safe, legal abortion. As other state laws are passed and enacted – if/when the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade – more than 36 million women of reproductive age will be left without the option to choose the care that is most appropriate for them. Women in low-income families who do not have the ability to travel to states with safe and legal abortion access, like Maryland, will suffer the most, increasing existing health disparities.
Thankfully, 16 states and the District of Columbia have acted to protect women’s reproductive rights. I am proud that Maryland is among the states that have expanded access by allowing more medical professionals to perform abortions and expanding abortion-care training.
While the Supreme Court is not expected to release a final decision on the case until June, and abortion is currently legal – just barely in some states – this decision would be an unprecedented step backwards. It would be the first time in my memory that the court would act to take away the constitutional rights of Americans.
I am alarmed by the court’s reasoning in this draft decision, which could be used by conservatives to undermine numerous other civil rights that Americans now rely on and hold dear.
For the first time in our country’s history, women would have fewer rights than their mothers.
Despite testifying before Congress under oath that Supreme Court precedents should stand, the recently appointed conservative members of the court arrived with an agenda to overturn Roe and now they are making that a reality. Senate Republicans and former President Donald Trump bear responsibility for confirming justices far outside of the legal mainstream and damaging our confirmation process.
Senate Republicans deliberately stole the seat that Merrick Garland was nominated for by President Barack Obama and delayed ever having a hearing for a year, effectively shrinking the size of the Supreme Court. Senate Republicans then turned around and rushed the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, even though early voting had begun for the 2020 presidential election.
Congress must not sit on the sidelines. Next week, the Senate will vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which I have co-sponsored, to codify Roe v. Wade and prohibit laws that impose burdensome requirements on access to reproductive health services. This vote cannot be for show. We must pass this legislation to protect the health and the rights of the women and families in this country.
Women’s health care is much broader than only reproductive rights, but the right to choose is fundamental. No government entity or politician, whether federal, state or local, nor Congress, the President, or the Supreme Court, should interfere in personal health decisions. The country agrees. Recent polling shows that 70 percent of Americans surveyed say that Roe v. Wade should be upheld and that decisions regarding abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor.
I will continue to work to ensure that women in Maryland and across the country are able to access the reproductive health care they need.
This Mother’s Day, and in anticipation of National Women’s Health Week, which begins May 8, let us all recommit to ensuring women have all the resources and care they need to stay healthy. This includes access to safe and legal abortion. From Maryland to Mississippi, Florida to Washington State, there should be a common standard.
Thank you for your time. Happy Mother’s Day to all our Maryland mothers. Please stay safe.