Dear Governor Hogan and Gubernatorial Candidates,
Our nation is facing the largest reproductive health crisis in our lifetime. From the recently revealed draft decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, we know with near certainty that the Supreme Court will overturn the protection of abortion rights under Roe v. Wade. As a consequence, over 35 million women, which is almost half the women of reproductive age in the United States, will lose the right to make their own decisions about pregnancy. Twenty-six states are poised to implement abortion bans almost immediately following the Dobbs decision.
Maryland has a responsibility to ensure access to abortion care for individuals seeking this basic health care service in our state. If we do not rise to the challenge, many women will be forced to carry pregnancies to term or seek abortion care outside of the health care system. This situation is untenable and disproportionately impacts women from Black and brown communities, rural areas, and low-income families.
During the 2022 session, the Maryland General Assembly had the foresight to enact House Bill 937 – Abortion Care Access Act to increase access to abortion care in Maryland. The bill establishes a comprehensive strategy to increase the number and diversity of abortion care providers and reduce financial barriers for Marylanders seeking care.
One of the most critical components of the Abortion Care Access Act is the Abortion Care Clinical Training Program. The bill requires an annual appropriation starting in fiscal 2024. The Maryland General Assembly set aside $3.5 million in the fiscal 2023 budget in case the Program needed to be started sooner.
Given the dire development in the Dobbs case, we call upon Governor Hogan to make an immediate decision to release the $3.5 million in fiscal 2023 funds for the Abortion Care Clinical Training Program.
We are also calling on all gubernatorial candidates to commit to immediately releasing these funds on your first day in office should you be elected.
Within several months if not weeks, we may be one of the few safe states within reach for women as far away as Texas. We cannot desert any woman, whether from Maryland or another state, who needs abortion care services.
Del. Lesley Lopez
President of the Women's Legislative Caucus of Maryland