Maryland law dedicates $3.5 million to 'abortion care' training yearly

Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones, a Democrat, at a MD Dems Women's Diversity Leadership Council event, Dec. 4, 2019. Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, a Democrat, at a MD Dems Women's Diversity Leadership Council event, Dec. 4, 2019. | Edward Kimmel via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A Maryland law set to take effect July 1 will allow non-physicans to perform abortions, and allot $3.5 million per year for “abortion care” training in the state.

“By enacting this law, Democrat lawmakers have now de-medicalized abortion and removed abortion from the spectrum of health care,” Laura Bogley, the director of legislation for Maryland Right to Life, told CNA. “As a result, many more women will be injured or killed by substandard abortion practices without any protection under Maryland law.”

Maryland House and Senate members, the majority of whom are Democrats, voted April 9 to override Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of House Bill 937, the Abortion Care Access Act

Among other things, the act establishes an “Abortion Care Clinical Training Program” to “protect access to abortion care by ensuring that there are a sufficient number of health professionals to provide abortion care.” 

Maryland’s Department of Health, the bill reads, will contract with a nonprofit coordinating organization to administer the program and grants for “abortion care training programs” at at least two community-based provider sites.

This organization will support “abortion care clinicial training” to “qualified providers” — providers who are broadly defined as any physician, nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, licensed certified midwife, physician assistant, or any other individual who is “licensed, certified, or authorwise authorized by law to practice in the state” and “for whom the performance of an abortion is within the scope of the individuals’ license or certification.”

Each fiscal year, the act reads, the governor must allot $3.5 million in the state’s budget to this program.

The legislation comes as the Supreme Court prepares to issue a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that directly challenges Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. If Roe is overturned, abortion law could be left up to each state.

“Abortion activists in the Maryland Democrat Caucuses are no longer pretending that they want abortion to be safe, legal and rare. They only care that abortion is legal and lucrative,” Bogley told CNA, before later adding, “So the question for Maryland voters is why should we be forced to pay for abortions under Medicaid or through higher health insurance premiums?”

Abortion insurance coverage 

The act instructs insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintanence organizations providing labor and delivery coverage under state policies or contracts to cover “abortion care services" without “a deductible, co-insurance, co-payment, or any other cost-sharing requirement.”

Abortion for minors

The act states that a “qualified provider” may not perform an abortion on an unmarried minor unless the provider gives notice to the parent or guardian, with broad exceptions. The provider is not required to give notice if the minor does not live with the parent or guardian, or if “a reasonable effort to give notice to a parent or guardian is unsuccessful.”

A qualified provider may also refrain from giving notice if it might lead to physical or emotional abuse of the minor, if the minor is “mature and and capable of giving informed consent to an abortion,” or if such notice would “not be in the best interest of the minor.”

Unborn viability 

The act defines “viable” as “that stage when, in the best clinic judgment of the qualified provider . . . there is a reasonable likelihood” that an unborn baby could survive outside the womb.

The state cannot prohibit a woman from obtaining an abortion before her unborn baby reaches viability, or at any point in pregnancy if it is necesary for her life or health or if her baby “is affected by genetic defect or serious deformity or abnormality,” the act says.

More in US

How many states are doing this?

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive research organization once associated with Planned Parenthood, 36 states currently require abortion to be performed by a licensed pysician. 

That includes four states where abortion must be performed by a licensed physician, but only for surgical abortion (versus abortion by pill): New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Rhode Island. In Mississippi, the law limits abortion provision to OB/GYNs.

The group listed Washington, D.C. and 14 states as not requiring a licensed physician: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. 

Beginning in July, that list will include Maryland.

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