Maryland legislature overrules governor’s veto on access to abortion

Larry Hogans, Governor of Maryland veto a measure expand access abortion in the state was overruled by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly on Saturday.

The state will end a restriction that only doctors can perform abortions. The new law allows nursing practitioners, midwives and medical assistants to continue their education. It creates an abortion care education program and requires $3.5 million in government funding annually. It also requires that most insurance plans cover abortions for free.

Del. Emily Shetty said she supports the measure on the floor of the house as a mother who has experienced a high-risk pregnancy. She also described being a sexual assault survivor in college and the difficulties she had “with the weight of what happened after that incident.”

“And fortunately, the incident did not result in pregnancy, but if I hadn’t made it, it would have changed my life drastically not being able to access the care I needed at the time,” Shetty said , a Democrat.

Hogan, a Republican, wrote in his veto letter that the law “endangers women’s health and lives by allowing non-physicians to perform abortions.”

The measure comes at a time when the conservative majority on the US Supreme Court is weighing whether Roe v. Wade is to be overthrownthe landmark 1973 ruling barring states from banning abortion.

If they do, at least 26 states either ban abortion outright or severely restrict access, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that advocates for abortion rights.

Several states with Republican-led legislatures have already taken steps to severely restrict access to abortion. Texas passed legislation banning abortion last year about six weeksbefore most women know they are pregnant. Oklahoma and Idaho followed in 2020 with similar bills. Texas and Idaho laws permit private individuals to bring civil lawsuits against anyone who performs abortions or assists someone in accessing the procedure.

“In this regard, it is very important that we keep in mind that the strategies this bill uses ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, no matter what happens to the rest of the country.” — no matter what happens to the Supreme Court,” Del said. Ariana Kelly, a Democrat who was the main sponsor of the bill.

Republican lawmakers have criticized the provision, which allocates $3.5 million in taxpayer dollars annually to education. Del. House Minority Representative Haven Shoemaker described the law as “the most radical expansion of abortion in Maryland history in a state that already has some of the most liberal abortion laws in the country.”

“Madam Speaker, this bill is too extreme, even for Maryland,” said Shoemaker, a Republican, referring to House Speaker Adrienne Jones, a Democrat.

Kelly said the measure modernizes the choice the state’s voters made in 1992 when they backed abortion rights in a statewide vote with 62% of voters.

“It will ensure that people have access to care, especially people of color, especially low-income people, especially rural people,” Kelly said. “We know that physician-only restrictions exacerbate health inequalities, and we seek to reduce health inequalities in the state of Maryland with this bill.”

The measure will come into effect on July 1st. The Insurance Rules apply to all policies, contracts and health insurance plans issued, delivered or renewed in the State on or after January 1.

Several other states with Democratically controlled legislatures or governors are attempting to protect access to abortion in anticipation that Roe v. Wade may be lifted. In early April, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation in March codifying access to abortion into state law.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week preemptively sued several district attorneys in their state to circumvent a 1931 law banning all abortions in the state. The statute is currently being superseded by the Roe V. Wade federal decision, but if that were repealed, the Michigan statute of 1931 would be reinstated.

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