Women Legislators of Maryland
Celebrating Their 50th Anniversary
Created in February of 1972, the Women Legislators of Maryland was born out of the need to "push for the recognition of women and their abilities," to quote the late Senator Rosalie Abrams. Delegate Pauline Menes fought to have the interests of women represented in formal Standing Committee settings and 50 years later, we are still working as a bicameral and bipartisan caucus to push agendas that represent the interests of women and children. We hope that by showing our bipartisan support for carefully chosen pieces of legislation, we can work as a unified front to tackle the growing needs of the women who reside in the great state of Maryland.
The national baby formula shortage has greatly impacted families in our communities, so the Women's Legislative Caucus of Maryland sought to create an outlet for parents to crowdsource formula sightings and also do an inventory check in real time. The website also has other valuable information on the infant formula shortage.
Two brilliant recent high school graduates, Wheaton HS alum Matthew Nanas and Clarksburg HS alum Adam Lederer created this tracker for the Women’s Caucus. This fall, Matthew will start at University of Maryland and Adam will begin studies at Montgomery College.
“We are thankful for Matt and Adam’s willingness to step up and use their ingenuity to help Maryland’s families. We are blessed to have such caring and innovative scholars in our state,” said Lopez.
50th Anniversary Video
Maryland Women's Legislative Caucus on Devastating Roe Decision
Annapolis, MD- In light of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the executive cabinet of the Women's Legislative Caucus of Maryland released the following statements:
President Lesley Lopez said, "It has always been the mission of the Women's Legislative Caucus to fight to make our state a greater place for women, and now with the rollback of Roe, we are tasked with fighting to ensure our daughters don't have less rights than our grandmothers. Not only is this reversal an attack on women's bodily autonomy, it is a clear and direct threat on women's ability to thrive in our country. Our Women's Caucus, the oldest in the country, has typically not taken a position on choice, but an unprecedented attack calls for unprecedented action. We are steadfast in our commitment to women and those seeking care from across this country as abortion is still legal in the state of Maryland, and we are committed to supporting Speaker Jones' bill for a constitutional amendment to protect reproductive freedom."
Past President Del. Anne Healey said, "Regardless of what the Supreme Court said today, abortion in Maryland remains a private, medical decision. The law we have in place makes sure that only the pregnant woman herself has the final say. I voted earlier this year to secure this policy as part of the Maryland Constitution. I would do so again.”
Del. Edith J. Patterson, President-Elect, said, "As a woman who witnessed and grew up before and after Roe vs Wade, today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court robs us of the ability to make personal choices about our bodies and pregnancies. This reversal places in jeopardy ALL the rights we have fought hard for and given lives for in order to ensure the rights of citizens. Now is not the time to move backwards! The fight must continue in Maryland and throughout the nation to make sure protections are in place and legislators are elected who support and honor our rights and not curtail them."
Del. Nicole Williams, 1st Vice President, said, "Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Roe v. Wade signals a tremendous step backward in the history of our country. At this critical moment, we must recommit ourselves to upholding a woman’s right to choose. Here in Maryland, we must build upon the progress we have made thus far to ensure that future generations of women will be protected in their right to make their own decisions about their bodies."
Del. Heather Bagnall, 2nd Vice President, said, "Today is a dark moment in our nation’s history when more than half the country will end the day with fewer rights than they began but we do not and will not accept this. We reject the notion that civil rights are subject to arbitrary state boundaries or that a half century of precedent is subject to the whims of a vocal minority. We have led in Maryland and will bring all efforts to bear to ensure the rights of women are protected."
Del. Pam Queen, Treasurer, stated, "After about 50 years of settled law, I am shocked and saddened that the Supreme Court is blinded by political polarization, not fairness and impartiality."
Del. Dana Jones, Secretary, said, "In 24 hours SCOTUS found the right to own a gun - to carry on the street is so fundamental that it can not be left to the states to sort out. However, today we are told by that same court that the right to be a woman and make a decision about your body can be disposed of by the states. This is a horrific 24 hours of hypocrisy in overturning the fate of women. The MD Women’s Caucus will stand in the breach and protect a women’s right to choose."
Del. Michelle Guyton, 2nd Member at Large: "In the past two days SCOTUS Justices, sworn to uphold the rule of law, have done irreparable harm to the citizens of our country. Today's ruling to overturn the well- established 50 year precedent of Roe vs. Wade will cost women their lives and represents both extreme misogyny and an illegal convergence of religion and government. I will continue to fight for true equality for Maryland's women and absolute autonomy over our bodies!"
Del. Bonnie Cullison, Chair of the Legislative Review Committee, said, “Never before have we had more concrete evidence that elections matter. Women have just lost the right of personal autonomy in more than half of the states as the result of the 2016 election. I only hope that women go to the polls in record numbers this fall to elect people who understand that women must have equal rights with respect to personal decisions.”
WOMEN’S LEGISLATIVE CAUCUS PRESIDENT ON HOGAN DECISION TO WITHHOLD TRAINING FUNDS
Del. Lopez: We need a commitment from Hogan and all gubernatorial candidates to release funds and protect women’s health
Annapolis, MD: This morning, Del. Lesley J. Lopez, president of the Women’s Legislative Caucus of Maryland, released a letter to Governor Larry Hogan and all gubernatorial candidates, asking for a commitment to the will of the General Assembly and reinstatement of the funds for the Abortion Care Clinicial Training Program.
“Given that the freedoms for half the population of reproductive age in our country is at stake with the looming Dobbs decision, we have a responsibility to train licensed medical professionals, such as nurse practitioners, to be able to perform this basic healthcare need. It was the will of the body to support this funding, both in the initial bill on the floor and in a veto override, and we need the confidence of knowing our governor will respect that will,” said Lopez.
“Regardless of the governor’s decision, on July 1, medical professionals will be able to provide abortion care, so it’s critical for the wellbeing of Marylanders that medical professionals receive proper training. It’s also important to note that this clinical training can provide instruction for doctors who will be denied training if Roe were to be reversed and that the committee heard from the medical community, including the Maryland Chapter of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who asked for this training specifically.”
Full copy of the letter is below.
Dear Governor Hogan and Gubernatorial Candidates,
Our nation is facing the largest reproductive health crisis in our lifetime. From the recently
revealed draft decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, we know with near certainty that the Supreme Court will overturn the protection of abortion rights under Roe v. Wade. As a consequence, over 35 million women, which is almost half the women of reproductive age in the United States, will lose the right to make their own decisions about pregnancy. Twenty-six states are poised to implement abortion bans almost immediately following the Dobbs decision.
Maryland has a responsibility to ensure access to abortion care for individuals seeking this basic
health care service in our state. If we do not rise to the challenge, many women will be forced to carry pregnancies to term or seek abortion care outside of the health care system. This situation is untenable and disproportionately impacts women from Black and brown communities, rural areas, and low-income families.
During the 2022 session, the Maryland General Assembly had the foresight to enact House Bill
937 – Abortion Care Access Act to increase access abortion care in Maryland. The bill establishes a comprehensive strategy to increase the number and diversity of abortion care providers and reduce financial barriers for Marylanders seeking care.
One of the most critical components of the Abortion Care Access Act is the Abortion Care
Clinical Training Program. The bill requires an annual appropriation starting in fiscal 2024. The
Maryland General Assembly set aside $3.5 million in the fiscal 2023 budget in case the Program needed to be started sooner.
Given the dire development in the Dobbs case, we call upon Governor Hogan to make an immediate decision to release the $3.5 million in fiscal 2023 funds for the Abortion Care Clinical Training Program.
We are also calling on all gubernatorial candidates to commit to immediately releasing these funds on your first day in office should you be elected.
Within several months if not weeks, we may be one of the few safe states within reach for
women as far away as Texas. We cannot desert any woman, whether from Maryland or other state, who needs abortion care services.
Del. Lesley J. Lopez
President of the Women's Legislative Caucus of Maryland