After Roe, abortion remains legal in Maryland up to viability with broad exceptions for life and health and for “genetic defect or serious deformity or abnormality” even after viability. Maryland has a pro-abortion “Freedom of Choice Act” that aggressively protects abortion. Although a recent count found 25 abortion centers in Maryland, it also has 40 pregnancy resource centers. The state does have a pro-life parental notification law for minors seeking abortion, however, abortion providers have broad discretion to waive parental notice.
Maryland’s House of Delegates and Senate are both Democrat-controlled. This year, they passed legislation that will implement a ballot question in the November 2024 General Election, asking Maryland voters to amend the state constitution to include a “right” to abortion. The Maryland General Assembly also passed legislation that requires public universities to either provide abortion services on-campus or refer students seeking abortion services to off-campus abortion providers.
Maryland’s Missouri-style judicial nomination system leaves it vulnerable to a judicially created “right to abortion” in the state constitution. Maryland’s appellate judges were nominated by the governor from a shortlist prepared by the Maryland Judicial Nominating Commission and then confirmed by the Maryland Senate.
Wes Moore, a Democrat, was elected as Governor in the 2022 Midterm Elections. Governor Moore has publicly committed to “enshrine[ing] the right to abortion in Maryland’s Constitution and establish[ing] Maryland as a safe haven for reproductive health care.” Although openly pro-abortion, Governor Moore has also expressed his desire to “implement legislation requiring Maryland’s Medicaid program to provide one year of postpartum coverage to new mothers,” as well as “expand home visiting programs, which provide expecting and new mothers with wraparound supports and education.”
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Maryland Abortion Quick Facts
- Abortion is legal in Maryland.
- Maryland limits abortions after viability, usually 24-26 weeks gestational age.
- Chemical abortion pills could be more tightly regulated in Maryland and can be prescribed via telemedicine.
Maryland’s Pro-Life Laws Across the Spectrum
Americans United for Life advances the human right to life across the spectrum of issues confronting the dignity of the human person. AUL’s comprehensive analysis of Maryland’s state laws on human life span the full spectrum of life issues from abortion, to health and safety protections, to patient informed consent, to conscience rights and bioethics.
Maryland’s Pro-Life Laws Key
- Yes, Maryland has this law and it is enforceable
- Maryland has this law in place, but it is currently not in effect due to litigation
- No, Maryland has no such law in place
- Not Applicable
- To Be Determined
State Constitutional Amendments and Statutes
Americans United for Life covers broad pro-life laws in this section. This includes both state constitutional amendments and state statutes designed to protect preborn human life. FOCA/RHA (or Freedom of Choice Acts/Reproductive Health Acts) are laws designed to enshrine and expand abortion and abortion businesses.
- Constitutional amendment stating no right to abortion
- Constitutional amendment preventing state funding of abortion
- Conditional law prohibiting abortion when Roe is overturned
- Pre-Roe abortion ban that will take effect when Roe is overturned
- FOCA/RHA, codifying an abortion right in state law
Mother-Child Gestational and Procedural Protections
States can protect both mother and child by limiting abortion by gestational age or prohibiting gruesome abortion methods. This category also includes life-saving care requirements for a child born-alive after an abortion, and health and safety requirements for a woman undergoing a chemical abortion.
- Gestational protections by age/week for preborn children
- Basic medical care for infant children born alive during attempted abortions
- Partial-birth (D&X) abortion ban
- Dismemberment (D&E) abortion ban
- Telemedicine abortion ban
- Follow up scheduled with patient for abortion pills complications
Prenatal Non-Discrimination (PRENDA) Protections
Increasingly states are enacting laws to protect unborn babies from eugenic abortions based on gender, disability, or race. Some states provide life-affirming resources for families who receive a diagnosis of a possible genetic anomaly like Down syndrome so they know that they’ll be supported.
- Protection against discrimination based on gender
- Protection against discrimination due to prenatal diagnosis
- Protection against discrimination based on race
- State-provided life-affirming resources for parents and families
Informed Consent Laws
Many states require a woman to give informed consent to an abortion, which holds abortion to a similar standard as other medical procedures. These protections include the disclosure of an abortion procedure’s nature and risks, the performance of an ultrasound to date the pregnancy and allow a woman to meet her unborn child if she chooses, and the time for a woman to reflect on this grave decision.
- Basic informed consent for mothers concerning abortion
- Patient signature or written confirmation of informed consent from provider
- Patient is provided state-sponsored informed consent website/information
- Reflection period (48 hours) protecting a mother’s discernment and choice
- An ultrasound is required to give a mother the opportunity to meet their child
- Information on risks of abortion procedure
- Information on the possibility of abortion pill reversal care
Abortion Reporting in Public Health Data
Reporting requirements ensure the government and public have a comprehensive view of abortion in the state when making important public policy decisions. This data includes basic information on instances of abortion, the gestational age of the aborted unborn child, demographics, procedure type, and complications.
- Basic reporting on instances of abortion
- Abortion reporting includes gestational age data
- Abortion reporting includes demographic information
- Abortion reporting includes procedure type
- Complication reporting
- Anonymized/aggregate data is made available to the public
- Anonymized/aggregate data is submitted to the CDC
Parental Rights and Protection of Minors
States protect a minor considering abortion by involving her parents in her life-changing decision, but also provide guidelines for judicial bypass to parental involvement when it is necessary. Other laws included in this section are safe haven laws which create a safe pathway to give up an infant and prevent child abandonment, and the dissemination of information on perinatal hospice to parents of unborn children with fetal anomalies.
- Parental consent before a minor obtains an abortion
- Parental notice of a minor obtaining an abortion
- Judicial bypass limits
- Mandatory reporting of suspected abuse
- Safe haven protections (10 Days)
- Perinatal hospice resources
Basic Health and Safety Standards
These laws bring abortion businesses up to the health and safety standards of medical facilities. States may limit both chemical and surgical abortion procedures to physicians, require the physician be licensed by the state, and require emergency transfer agreements or admitting privileges for the physician or the facility to protect a patient if she suffers post-abortion complications.
- Established health and safety standards for abortion businesses
- Basic regulatory inspections for abortion businesses
- Only physicians can perform abortions (all methods)
- Physicians required to be licensed in the state
- Emergency transfer/admitting privilege patient protections
- Physician’s license/credentials are disclosed to patients
Legal Recognition of Human Dignity for Preborn Persons
This section covers the ways states recognize the human dignity of unborn children. States increasingly require dignified disposition of fetal remains, whether from abortion or miscarriage. The law may provide for the issuance of a fetal death or stillbirth certificate. States may also protect the dignity of unborn children by prohibiting fetal experimentation and banning the sale or transfer of human fetal remains.
- Dignified disposition of fetal remains required
- Parents may request dignified disposition
- Human fetal death or stillbirth certificate issued to recognize the life of human persons (20 weeks)
- Sale or transfer of human fetal remains prohibited
- Fetal experimentation banned
Fetal Homicide and Wrongful Death/Life
Fetal homicide laws establish criminal penalties for the death of an unborn child. Wrongful death suits provide a civil cause of action for the death of an unborn child. A prohibition on wrongful life/birth suits affirms that no life is “unwanted.”
- Fetal homicide criminalization
- Fetal homicide law in place from the moment of conception
- Wrongful death suits
- Prohibition on wrongful life/birth suits
Assisted Suicide and Patient Care
These laws protect end-of-life patients from physician-assisted suicide, a practice that exploits vulnerable patients, has little government oversight, and undermines modern medicine. The Life-Sustaining Care Act ensures healthcare professionals may not override a minor patient or her surrogate’s decision to obtain or continue life-sustaining care. States with patient nondiscrimination acts protect patients from age or disability discrimination.
- Assisted suicide prohibition
- Life-sustaining care act
- Patient non-discrimination on the basis of age or disability
Bioethics, Human Cloning, and Embryo Research
As medical technology evolves, states increasingly enact pro-life bioethics policies to reaffirm human dignity and ban cloning. These laws also require ethical medical practices, ban destructive embryo research, and regulate assisted reproductive technology.
- Bans human cloning
- Bans taxpayer funding for human cloning
- Bans destructive embryo research
- Encourages ethical alternatives to embryo research
- Requires informed consent for assisted reproductive technologies
- Regulates egg harvesting
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience
These laws protect the freedom of conscience of healthcare professionals, institutions, and pharmacists against forced participation in assisted suicide and abortion. States also safeguard the conscience rights of healthcare professionals and institutions against unethical medical research.
- Individuals protected against abortion participation
- Public/Private institutions protected against abortion participation
- Pharmacists protected against abortion participation
- Individuals protected against participation in unethical research
- Private/public institutions protected against participation in unethical research
- Individuals protected against participation in assisted suicide
- Private/public institutions protected against participation in assisted suicide
- Pharmacists protected against participation in assisted suicide
Maryland Pro-Life Legislation Tracker
Maryland Abortion Inspection Initiative
According to AUL’s Unsafe project, Maryland does regulate abortion businesses to some degree.
The Maryland Department of Health, through the Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ), makes all surgical abortion facility surveys and reports available online. The state has a limited but relatively effective regulatory framework. Routine issues uncovered by the reports included: missing documentation of staff certification in Basic Life Support or Advanced Cardiac Life Support, failure to test autoclave machines, failure to document patient discharge diagnoses, failure to train staff in emergency patient transfers to emergency departments, and failure to screen staff for tuberculosis.
The Associates in OB/GYN Care facility in Baltimore was cited for a patient who was “not alert and oriented to person, place or time” before being left alone with unlicensed staff following a surgical abortion. Her chart notes state, “Patient, like many do, slept throughout. While writing orders, called by nurse that patient could not sit-up and had poor color… Patient not breathing and pulse faint I immediately began CPR… 911 requested as soon as I began CPR.” That patient’s chart was missing vital signs during and after the abortion. Emergency responder records indicated the patient continued to have CPR administered, but ultimately “the patient died due to Severe Pulmonary Edema, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, and Hypoxic Brain Injury.” The clinic staff failed to retrieve and use the automated external defibrillator (AED), and the inspection found that the AED was not in working condition and in fact had a “do not use” sticker on it. Although a staff member’s record indicated training in the use of the AED, an interview confirmed that the staff member was not aware how to use it. “None of the staff knew how to recharge the machine.”
At another location of the same provider, a patient was provided with the abortion drug Misoprostol by a non-licensed staff member before the physician even arrived at the facility. That patient was subsequently determined to be likely 22 weeks pregnant, well beyond the recommend gestational age of 9 weeks for chemical abortion. The abortion business required her to go to another facility for another dose of medication, then another facility for a D&C operation to complete the abortion surgically, and potentially a second D&C at a fourth facility. For this abortion business, providing patients with Misoprostol “at 11 weeks gestation or beyond, even if the patient has not been evaluated by a physician, and even if no physician is available on site” is standard protocol.
The Maryland Department of Health, through the Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ), makes all surgical abortion facility surveys and reports available online. “Ambulatory Care.” Maryland Department of Health.
NUMBER OF REPORTS: 44
DATE RANGE: 2009–2018