Coming up on one year since its passage, Maryland’s Abortion Care Access Act will finally be able to get off the ground. The Abortion Care Access Act created a training program that was the first of its kind in the nation, but funding for the program was halted by the former governor.
Stay one step ahead. Join our email list for the latest news.Subscribe
House Bill 937 established the Abortion Care Access Act in 2022, which expanded the scope of practice for certain healthcare providers allowing them to provide abortions, increased provider diversity, and created the Abortion Care Clinical Training Program. The latter program was created to protect access to abortion care by allowing more health professionals to perform the procedure. The act mandated that $3.5 million would be used to help create and administer the new training program.
“What we found out when we put this package together was that we had two-thirds of Maryland’s counties [that] did not have abortion care providers,” bill sponsor Sen. Delores Kelly told State of Reform in a recent interview.
“The more providers the people see, the more people feel safe, and the more people who are already experts and trained to provide these services, like nurse practitioners, licensed certified midwives, or other appropriately trained or certified individuals the less stigmatizing these types of services become. We hope this will take the pressure off our clinics as more states continue to restrict access to abortion services for their residents.”
After it passed the legislature, former Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed HB 937, saying, “HB 937 endangers the health and lives of women by allowing non-physicians to perform abortions.” On that same day, the House (90-46) and Senate (29-15) overrode the governor’s veto, and HB 937 became law. However, Hogan decided to withhold the $3.5 million that HB 937 designated for training new providers, which effectively delayed the program one full year since the training program could not be funded.
On Jan. 19th, 2023, newly elected Gov. Wes Moore announced that he will fund the $3.5 million for the Training Program, which immediately commenced the next day. “We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: Maryland needs to be a state that is a safe haven for abortion rights,” Moore said in his announcement.
“I’m really excited Gov. Moore is funding the training program. Maryland has made a commitment to not only protect healthcare providers but to protect patients and their families.” Kelly said. “A lot of clinics are excited to be part of this program and [it] is much needed.”
“It’s wonderful [that] Gov. Moore released the funds and everything is moving forward as intended. It will really be great to expand the qualified providers.” Lynn McCann, co-director of the Baltimore Abortion Fund, told State of Reform. “Especially with Maryland’s proximity to other states that are implementing abortion bans. We are in a critical spot to offer care for the surrounding states.”
McCann explained how Maryland is continuing to see an increase in the number of individuals arriving from states that have passed abortion restrictions to receive needed care.
“We have been seeing an increase in travel to Maryland from folks out of the state—even before the Dobbs decision was released—because other states have been banning abortions. We are still seeing many people travel to Maryland. Even from states like Pennsylvania who have abortion access, but because they have a waiting period, Maryland provides them access.
Since Dobbs was overturned, in 2021, [we’ve gotten] 1500 calls for abortion services. In 2022, it doubled. That trend has continued in 2023. In-state callers versus out-of-state callers fluctuates around 50/50 for any given year.
In general, it’s really important to underscore all the factors that go into abortion care. We would love to see additional support at the city and state levels for logistical services, child care, travel, or hotel accommodations. Some form of ongoing support to remove logistical barriers is just as important as insurance.”
As this program begins, Maryland lawmakers are still introducing reproductive healthcare legislation, which includes a constitutional amendment that would provide that every person has the fundamental right to reproductive freedoms including the ability to make and effectuate decisions to prevent, continue, or end one’s own pregnancy.
“Many Marylanders still need care and access is a critical issue. [The Abortion Care Access Act] is a critical first step but we can and should do more, and we should treat this care like any other form of healthcare,” McCann said.
“We are in the process of making sure patients have access to much-needed healthcare services. The Abortion Care Access Act was just the first step,” Kelly said.