Maryland joins 14 other states in allowing trained medical professionals other than physicians to perform abortions. That change is part of a bill expanding abortion rights passed by state lawmakers Saturday, overturning Governor Larry Hogan’s veto.
Under the new law, which comes into effect on July 1, practice nurses, nurse midwives and trained physician assistants can perform abortions. The law also requires most insurance companies in the state to cover the cost of an abortion at no cost to the resident, and directs the state to invest $3.5 million a year in training in abortion care.
“They championed health care, they championed access to abortion care — which we believe is health care, and health care is a human right — so they did what was right for the women in the state of Maryland,” Karen said. J. Nelson, the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, citing Maryland’s lawmakers.
Laura Bogley, director of legislation for Maryland Right to Life, an anti-abortion organization, said, “This is an example of what happens when you have a partisan monopoly in a state legislature.” She added: “The monopoly breeds extremism.”
The new Maryland law comes at a time when many state legislators across the country are seeking to severely restrict access to abortion or even ban it altogether. State lawmakers introduced more abortion restrictions in 2021 than in any other year since the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research organization. And research from the institute suggests the country is poised to introduce more anti-abortion restrictions this year. The Supreme Court is expected to weaken or even overthrow Roe by the summer.
When Mr. Hogan, a Republican, vetoed the bill on Friday, he wrote in an open letter to Maryland Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Adrienne A. Jones, a Democrat, that allowing non- doctors to perform abortions “would lower standards for women’s health care and safety.”
But the House of Representatives overruled the veto by a vote of 90 to 46. The vote in the Senate was 29 to 15.
Ms Bogley said she and others expect lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the new law. “That’s not something the public supports nationally or in Maryland,” she said.
Ms. Nelson insisted that it was normal in other states to allow non-physicians to perform abortions.
“This is the standard of care in 14 other states,” said Ms. Nelson. “So Maryland, which is typically at the forefront of reproductive health care, actually had a little bit of catching up to do here.”