Maryland abortion law will not be funded by Governor Larry Hogan

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Amid an intense focus on abortion rights, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has decided to withhold the $3.5 million that state lawmakers have earmarked for training new suppliers, its spokesperson said.

The decision effectively delays the state’s new abortion provider training program by a year and comes as the popular governor finishes his term and sharpens his national ambitions.

The money is part of the state’s largest abortion access expansion in three decades. Hogan vetoed the plans this spring, but was overruled by Democratic supermajorities in Annapolis who feared that what they see as Maryland’s already inadequate provider network would be overwhelmed if neighboring states banned abortion. Abortion advocates are bracing for an influx of patients.

Hogan’s use of budgetary discretion illustrates how an anti-abortion leader can thwart new agendas, even in liberal states such as Maryland, which have strongly supported abortion rights for decades.

How the end of Roe v. Could Wade affect you?

“There were a lot of people who voted for people who didn’t share their values ​​on choice, and they thought it wouldn’t matter. And now we see that elections have consequences,” Del said. Ariana B. Kelly (D-Montgomery), the primary sponsor of Maryland’s abortion access law.

“If someone runs for public office and tells you they don’t support reproductive rights, believe them,” she said.

Hogan, a Catholic who says he is personally anti-abortion, was elected twice in a state where 88% of residents believe abortion should be legal. He remained silent this week after a leaked draft notice flagged the possibility that the Supreme Court would strike down Roe vs. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide. Hogan has vowed not to try to change Maryland’s longstanding abortion laws, enacted after a public referendum in the early 1990s.

Hogan said he was keeping that promise when he vetoed the expansion.

Other elements of the expansion will still go into effect in July, requiring insurance companies and Medicaid to cover full abortion costs at no cost to patients and expanding the number of medical providers who can perform the procedure. .

With federal abortion protections under threat, Democratic lawmakers in Maryland removed a longstanding restriction that only allowed doctors to perform the procedure.

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Private organizations can train providers to perform abortions, and advocates said most medical abortions don’t require extensive training. Maryland law requires $3.5 million to be spent each year starting in July 2023 to ensure clinicians get the training they need, especially if the Supreme Court follows through on its draft opinion. .

A leaked copy of the draft opinion, first reported by Politico, refers to applications by 26 states to the High Court seeking permission to regulate or ban abortions. Since most abortion training takes place in clinical settings, if those states ban abortion, medical training to perform abortions could be significantly reduced, Kelly said.

The money to begin training in Maryland this year, however, is tied to the state’s flawed budget process.

A separate budget agreement among Democratic state lawmakers set aside $3.5 million for training to begin in July, but Maryland’s constitution does not require the governor to honor those agreements. He is prohibited from spending this money on anything other than abortion education, but he can use his discretion to decide whether to spend it or not.

Hogan’s spokesman, Michael Ricci, said Tuesday night that Hogan would not spend it and plans to implement a version of the budget that “reflects the bipartisan agreement with legislative leaders and includes $2 billion for their priorities.” “.

What if Roe v. Wade was canceled

Two-thirds of Maryland counties have no abortion providers, according to the abortion rights research group Guttmacher Institute. A network of nonprofits, such as the Baltimore Abortion Fund, has for years relied on volunteers to provide walks and other support for pregnant women who need help.

“People have a state-protected right but still face barriers to getting an abortion,” said Lynn McCann, co-director of the Baltimore Abortion Fund.

The prospect of additional clients from neighboring conservative states likely to ban abortion, such as West Virginia, is driving these organizations to seek additional long-term volunteers and donations, McCann said.

Providers can be trained to perform the procedure without state resources, and Planned Parenthood of Maryland intends to start on their own.

Kyle Bukowski, Planned Parenthood’s chief medical officer, said the organization will focus on training all of its existing staff first before offering training to providers outside the Planned Parenthood network.

Abortion immediately became the focus of the governor’s race this week, with the crowded Democratic field uniting in pledges to protect abortion access and leading Republican candidates divided on their approach.

While Trump-backed Republican Republican Daniel L. Cox (Frederick) applauded the possibility that abortion rights could be curtailed, Hogan-backed candidate Kelly Schulz echoed the governor’s position that which she was personally against abortion but would not change existing laws.

The politics of the issue have changed since Hogan used that position to woo Maryland voters. Hogan was able to largely dodge abortion issues during his tenure, but was forced to take a stand this spring.

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