By Michelle Larkin, Capital News Service
On his first full day in office, Gov. Wes Moore and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller announced they’re releasing $3.5 million to expand abortion care training, part of $69 million in funds withheld by his predecessor and released by Moore Thursday.
“Maryland needs to be a state that is a safe haven for abortion rights,” Moore said. “We must as neighbors be able to unite behind the basic principle that all women are entitled to safe health care services.”
Overturning Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision that upheld the legality of abortion across the U.S. for nearly 50 years, influenced Moore’s decision. Roe was overturned on June 24, 2022, by the U.S. Supreme Court, a decision Moore called “dangerous” and “unprecedented” for women.
Throughout his campaign for governor, Moore promised to enshrine the right to abortion in Maryland’s Constitution and release suitable funding to expand reproductive health care training on “day one.”
“Our administration will continue to work with our legislative partners, our health care providers and other critical stakeholders to enact additional protections to preserve and expand access to reproductive rights,” Moore said.
State funding for abortion provider training services was previously withheld by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
Hogan’s decision not to grant the funds was largely due to his firm belief that “non-licensed physicians should not be performing these medical procedures,” according to Hogan’s spokesman at the time, Michael Ricci.
Moore’s initiative is an important step to fully implement the Abortion Care Access Act passed in 2022, which Hogan vetoed but the Democrat-controlled legislature overrode the decision.
The Abortion Care Access Act specifies that “qualified providers,” like licensed physicians and nurse practitioners, can perform abortions during a post-Roe era. It also will allow abortion care training programs at community-based and hospital-based sites, but it will not officially start until July 1.
The Abortion Care Access Act, whose lead sponsor was Del. Ariana Kelly, D-Montgomery, also focuses on equity in access to abortion coverage in Maryland insurance plans. It would require most private insurance plans to cover abortion care without deductibles. Kelly could not be reached for comment Thursday.
According to Moore’s website and a Guttmacher Institute study, around 70 percent of Maryland’s counties have no abortion providers.
The timing of Moore’s release of funds coincides with this year’s March for Life, the annual anti-abortion rally around the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Friday’s march will focus on the Capitol, according to the map and organizers, as the fight against the practice has moved into legislatures.