Even if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses precedent and strikes down Roe v. Wade, abortion will remain legal in progressive-leaning states such as Maryland that are likely to choose to continue to allow the procedure, legal analysts confirmed to MarylandReporter.com.
Last week Mississippi asked the high court to consider a challenge to the 1973 landmark decision. In the state’s brief it argued that the court’s decisions both 48 years ago and in the 1992 reaffirmation of Roe, Casey v. Planned Parenthood-were “egregiously wrong” in part because the Constitution does not protect the right to have an abortion and that therefore states should be free to outlaw the procedure.
The first real challenge to Roe comes as numerous other states, including Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma and Arizona, have recently passed laws that limit access to abortion.
“As a legal matter, each state would once again choose whether or not to permit abortions, as well as to set forth any restrictions,” former Maryland attorney general and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler said. “As a political matter, in a state where three of our past five elections have been won by Republicans, actually electing a Democrat next year in what promises to be a very Republican year nationally becomes of paramount importance.”
Michele Gilman, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, agreed with Gansler on the legal question.
“If Mississippi prevails, each state would be able to pass its own laws regarding abortion.”
Gilman added: “It is doubtful Maryland’s laws regarding abortion would change. It is not one of the states that has been actively seeking to restrict abortion, as Mississippi has done.”
As to whether women from states that outlaw abortion might to flock to Maryland and other pro-choice states, the answer is unclear.
“It’s hard to predict whether women from states that outlaw abortion would travel to Maryland. For low-income women, the travel and associated costs would likely be out of reach. And they are the women most harshly impacted by these bans.”
While it may seem like common sense to some that a Roe reversal would not in-and-of-itself outlaw abortion, the popular misconception from television and social media is that it would.
Richard Vatz, a professor of political persuasion at Towson University, said the reason for that misconception can partly be attributed to pollsters and the intense feelings surrounding the issue.
“This misperception comes from public opinion polls in which people seem opinionated when information is fed to them. Furthermore, politicians and public figures never depict Americans as ignorant because such a description would hurt the politicians and others occupationally.”
Vatz said abortion is not the only hot-button issue the public has significant misconceptions about.
“’Abortion rights and the Supreme Court’ are not the only subject of ignorance of the general public, of course. The public’s economic ignorance, leading to a category known to pollsters as ‘Know-Nothings,’ leads many to ignore hyper-government spending as a cause of inflation…If in the very unlikely event the Supreme Court violated precedent and struck down Roe v. Wade, the public would in large numbers believe that all abortion would be illegal, a massive misinterpretation.”
Karen J. Nelson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, told MarylandReporter.com in a statement that the organization is “closely monitoring” legal challenges to Roe across the nation.
“We are squarely focused on making sure our patients continue to have access to quality affordable healthcare. In the U.S. now, your access to abortion already depends on where you live and what resources you have. A Supreme Court that would overturn or gut Roe would make existing inequalities worse,” she said. “Overturning Roe does not eliminate abortion; it just makes it less safe and puts pregnant people and their families at risk. We are fortunate that the Maryland constitution already safeguards the right to access safe, legal abortion. However, we should not be moving backward in this country. Planned Parenthood will keep fighting to make sure every person who needs abortion care can access it regardless of their income and ZIP code.”
A Pew Research Center poll released in May found that 59% of Americans said that abortion “should be legal in all or most cases.” Conversely, the poll found that 39% of Americans said that abortion “should be illegal in all or most cases.”