Baltimore County officials vow to stand by women who travel to Md. for abortions

After the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, some officials in Maryland, largely considered a safe state for abortion rights, are vowing to stand by women who come to the state for services of abortion.

Two top Baltimore County leaders, County Executive Johnny Olszewski and State Attorney Scott Shellenberger, announced Monday that they would not participate in the extradition of individuals related to abortion bans from other states.

Scott Shellenberger

“Qunja Baltimore is committed to protecting the right of all women, regardless of where they are, to have access to reproductive health care and safe abortion services,” the statement said. “County Executive Olszewski fully supports State’s Attorney Shellenberger’s position to not criminalize anyone seeking abortion care in Baltimore County and will continue to support and protect the HIPAA rights of anyone receiving medical care in our communities.”

Currently, Maryland has several of the the strongest abortion protections in the country, with state law guaranteeing the right to an abortion until the fetus is viable — usually around 24 weeks — and a majority of Marylanders supporting keeping abortion legal. However, efforts to include the right to abortion in the state constitution have been made failed in the last years.

Because of Maryland’s strong abortion laws, political and medical leaders believe the state will become a “haven” to which women will travel to obtain abortions as other states’ bans take effect.

Women who travel overseas for abortions cannot currently be prosecuted for it, but many do the experts I believe this can change. Some states are now looking to make it illegal, or in some cases much more difficult, to travel out of state to get an abortion.

Right now, though, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will be extradited for performing an abortion in Baltimore County, according to Mark Graber, a constitutional law professor and scholar at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

On the other hand, an individual who fled to Maryland after having an abortion in a state where it is prohibited could be extradited back to the state where the abortion was performed — and federal courts could require Maryland leaders to respect, thanks to a 1987 Supreme Court Decision, Puerto Rico v. Branstad.

“So it’s pretty clear — a doctor performs an abortion in Alabama. This is illegal. (He) fled to Maryland — Maryland should extradite the doctor,” Graber said.

No extraditions related to abortion bans have yet occurred, Graber said, as states’ bans are just beginning to take effect. However, he does not believe that such cases will be common.

“If, after having an abortion, you flee to another state where abortion is legal, it would make a lot more sense to just go to the state first,” he said. “Chances are, if you can afford to run to Maryland, you can afford to go to Maryland to get an abortion.”

Politicians across the country are taking positions similar to Olszewski and Shellenberger; Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order saying state officials could not help other states investigate individuals who had traveled to Colorado for abortions.

Marilyn Mosby and Aisha Braveboy, the state’s attorneys for Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, respectively, announced in late June that they would not “prosecute any person or health care provider involved in obtaining, committing or facilitating a abortion, regardless of any decision promulgated at the local or federal level.”

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