Just one week into their general election campaigns, Maryland’s U.S. Senate candidates Larry Hogan and Angela Alsobrooks are ratcheting up their rhetoric on abortion rights.

Alsobrooks, a Democrat, stood in the bright sun in Federal Hill on Thursday morning to declare that Hogan, a Republican, cannot be trusted to protect the right to seek an abortion.

“Not only do these Republicans have a vision of a national ban on abortion, but they believe that that road runs through Larry Hogan and runs through the state of Maryland,” said Alsobrooks, who is currently the Prince George’s County executive. Alsobrooks and her supporters insist that she’s the only candidate who would fully support legalizing abortion nationwide, effectively reinstating the protections from the Roe v. Wade decision that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned in 2022.

She picked up an endorsement from Planned Parenthood’s political arm this week.

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Hogan, meanwhile, unveiled a new TV ad on Wednesday — at a cost of $1 million — to amplify his new position that he would “support legislation that makes Roe the law of the land, in every state.” And his team called out what they said were “partisan attacks” on the issue.

Hogan, the former two-term governor, jumped on the abortion issue right after winning the primary election, eager to blunt a line of attack from Democrats. He said last week that while personally opposed to abortion, he would support legal abortion. He’s also said in interviews that he’s done nothing to roll back abortion rights and would protect access if elected to the U.S. Senate.

A key difference between the two candidates emerged on Wednesday, with Hogan saying he’d support legal abortions up to 26 weeks of a pregnancy, while Alsobrooks opposed a firm cutoff.

“I don’t believe that these decisions are ones that should be left to politicians,” Alsobrooks said in response to questions. “The decision about reproductive choices, about freedom to access abortion, belongs to that woman. It’s a family decision for a woman, a family and her doctor.”

Alsobrooks said, if elected, she would cosponsor the Women’s Health Protection Act. That bill would reinstate a nationwide right to abortion care, “free from medically unnecessary restrictions and bans on abortion,” according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

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Hogan said he would support a bipartisan “compromise bill” that’s pending that would legalize abortion through 26 weeks. It’s known as the Reproductive Freedom for All Act.

The bill would “re-enshrine the preexisting law. And now, the Democrats want to take it much further,” Hogan said on WBAL Radio’s Bryan Nehman and C4 Show on WednesdayThursday.

“I’ve been through this over and over again. I’m supporting this bill that has 26 weeks,” Hogan said.

Democrats and reproductive health advocates dismissed Hogan’s promise as empty rhetoric that’s politically convenient as he tries to woo Democratic and independent voters.

“It’s a Larry-come-lately empty statement,” said state Sen. Shelly Hettleman, a Baltimore County Democrat who was among several Alsobrooks supporters who gathered for a press conference on Wednesday.

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U.S. Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks, a Democrat, speaks about abortion rights along with supporters during a press conference in Federal Hill in Baltimore on Wednesday, May 22, 2024.
U.S. Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks, a Democrat, speaks about abortion rights along with supporters during a press conference in Federal Hill in Baltimore on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Pamela Wood)

Alsobrooks supporters said that regardless of Hogan’s personal position, his victory could put Republicans in the majority of the U.S. Senate, and GOP leaders would push a national abortion ban.

“Larry Hogan has already said that he’s going to caucus with the Republican Party, and that’s the same party that has vowed to turn back the page on access to abortion care by putting forth a national ban,” said Del. Stephanie Smith of Baltimore. “So, I’m going to say again: Are you going to trust what people say? Or are you going to trust what people do?”

To underscore the point, the Alsobrooks camp noted Hogan’s record during his eight years as governor: Vetoing legislation to expand the universe of health care providers who can provide abortion care and to require more insurance coverage, and holding back money set aside to train providers. Lawmakers overturned both vetoes and current Gov. Wes Moore released the training money on his first full day in office in 2023.

Otherwise, Hogan was largely untested on abortion during his two terms. Maryland law has guaranteed reproductive choice since the early 1990s; Hogan has said that’s settled law and it’s unnecessary to put it into the state constitution, which voters will decide this fall.

“My record is very clear. I think the people of Maryland know where I am. ... And hopefully, they won’t listen to the sort of false rhetoric, the lies and the kind of smear campaign from these other guys, trying to rewrite history and change my position,” Hogan said in the radio interview.