Despite pleas from some Maryland Democratic lawmakers and officials, Gov. Larry Hogan does not plan to release $3.5 million early in funds earmarked for training additional clinicians to perform abortions in Maryland before doing so. ‘next year.
The money came attached to a state law passed this year that allows medical providers other than doctors to perform the procedure, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives. Hogan, a Republican, vetoed the bill, but his veto was overridden by the Democratic legislature.
The new law goes into effect July 1, but training funding under the law does not have to appear in the state budget until the fiscal year beginning a year later in July 2023.
Statewide training money is to be allocated from next year’s budget, but some lawmakers have called on Hogan to use his discretion to release the first round of funding sooner, a la following the leak of a draft opinion from the United States Supreme Court indicating a majority of the justices favor overturning Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision that essentially legalized abortion in the United States.
“The Governor strongly believes, as stated in his veto of this partisan measure, that unlicensed physicians should not perform these medical procedures,” Hogan spokesman Michael Ricci said in an email. “Suddenly freeing up taxpayers’ money for this purpose would run counter to these concerns about the rollback of women’s health standards.
The chair of the Women’s Legislative Caucus of Maryland urged Hogan on Thursday to release the funds and called on all gubernatorial candidates to commit to releasing the funds if they take office in January.
“In a few months, if not weeks, we may be one of the few safe states within reach for women as far away as Texas,” Caucus Chair Del wrote. Lesley Lopez, a Democrat from Montgomery County. “We cannot abandon any woman… who needs abortion care services.”
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, wrote to Hogan’s office on Wednesday, saying the funds are needed “to ensure our state has enough medical professionals to meet the expected increased need.” of abortions if Roe is reversed.
“Especially since the majority of abortions are performed by medication, we should immediately and safely train medical professionals through programs with these funds,” Franchot wrote.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research group that supports abortion rights, about 54% of abortions nationwide were induced with drugs in 2020 – the first time since the institute announced. began collecting research on the topic that these abortions accounted for the majority of procedures performed in the United States
In a statement Wednesday, Hogan’s spokesperson accused Franchot of “campaigning at taxpayer expense.”
“At the height of tax season, when our office receives dozens of calls each week from frustrated Marylanders asking for help from the comptroller’s office, it is deeply concerning to see he is distracted,” Ricci wrote.
Meanwhile, some private clinics are already preparing more of their staff to perform the procedure, including Planned Parenthood of Maryland, said Kyle Bukowski, chief medical officer for the women’s health organization.
Of the. Ariana Kelly, a Montgomery County Democrat who sponsored legislation allowing non-doctors to perform abortions and requiring some insurers to cover the procedure without co-payment, called Hogan’s decision not to release the funds sooner “inadmissible”.
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“I know this got caught up in election year politics, and that’s unfortunate, but the right thing to do is to release the money,” Kelly said.
If the Supreme Court issues an opinion consistent with the plan, first reported Monday night by Politico, “trigger laws” banning abortions except in certain cases could go into effect immediately in states near Maryland. States like Kentucky and Tennessee have trigger laws, and states like Ohio and West Virginia are likely to ban abortions in Roe’s absence, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
As a result, people seeking abortions in those states may soon be coming to Maryland in greater numbers, increasing wait times for Maryland residents. Delays in abortions can have a significant impact on the complexity of the procedure.
“That’s when the pressure on our suppliers starts,” Kelly said. “It doesn’t make sense to delay this for a year and a half if we know that.”
Waiting until next year to fund training efforts is too little, too late, Kelly said, even if the governor-elect in November chooses to release funding when he takes office in January.
The Maryland Department of Health, which is tasked with finding a nonprofit to run the program, needs to know when the money is likely to arrive so it can begin the process, Kelly said.
“They need to know to put this on their to-do list,” she said.