Maryland has some of the strongest abortion rights laws in the country and could see an influx of people looking for abortion services banned in other states.
As part of Maryland’s plan to become a safe state for abortion care, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives will be allowed to perform abortions, and insurance companies will be required to cover the procedure under a law that goes into effect Friday.
“Our clinicians are protected,” Del. Ariana Kelly said. “We’re investing state funding in clinical training to increase the number of trained providers. That protects our patients from long wait times and allows us to serve people.”
Kelly led the way in the House for the new law. She says supporters knew either Roe v. Wade would be overturned or even more restrictions would be put in place, so patients from across the country may come to Maryland looking for care.
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“We wanted to make sure that Maryland patients didn’t see delays in their care as a result of out-of-state folks coming in and we wanted to make sure we had enough providers and make sure that out-of-state people would be able to get appointments as well,” Kelly said.
The next step is passing a constitutional amendment ensuring access to abortion in the state. It passed the House this year but wasn’t taken up in the Senate. Lawmakers are vowing to take it up again during the next session. If passed in the Legislature, it would ultimately be decided by voters through a statewide referendum.
Organizations that provide abortion care and resources are expecting a surge of patients from states with abortion bans.
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Lynn McCann of the Baltimore Abortion Fund says hundreds have submitted applications to become volunteers. The fund provides financial and other assistance for those who get the procedure in Maryland.
“So that could be coordinating transportation, child care, meals,” McCann said. “You know, there are a lot of factors that can prevent someone from accessing this form of health care.”
While the Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade is a setback, McCann says it will not define the future for those working for reproductive justice.
Lawmakers also allocated $3.5 million for training, but those funds won’t be available for another year unless Republican Gov. Larry Hogan releases them sooner, which he's refused to do.