The Maryland General Assembly passed a bill Tuesday that would expand abortion access by ending a restriction that only physicians can perform them and requiring most insurance plans to cover abortion care without cost.
The Senate gave the Abortion Care Access Act or HB0937 final passage on a 28-15 vote. The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, whose office did not immediately comment on his position on the bill. The governor has said he personally opposes abortion, though he has called the issue settled law in the state.
While the Senate would need 29 votes to override any potential veto, there may be enough votes to do that since several senators were absent Tuesday when the Senate passed the bill.
Supporters say Maryland does not have enough abortion providers. State Sen. Delores Kelley, a Baltimore County Democrat, noted in an earlier debate that many counties do not have even one abortionist.
Karen Nelson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, said, "We know that just because it's legal on the books does not always mean that there's access, and so today the Maryland General Assembly made sure that there will be access."
The bill would remove a legal restriction preventing nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physician assistants from providing abortions. It would create an abortion care training program and requires $3.5 million in state funding annually.
Opponents said the measure went too far.
"This bill is expanding further out," said state Sen. Justin Ready, a Carroll County Republican. "Maryland already is one of only four states that forces taxpayers to fund abortion, and we force it at pretty much every stage of the process."
The legislation also aims to provide equitable access to abortion coverage, whether with private insurance or Medicaid. It would require private insurance plans, except for those with legal exemptions, to cover abortion care and without cost-sharing or deductibles.
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Reprinted with permission from Faithwirecom. Copyright © 2022 The Christian Broadcasting Network Inc. All rights reserved.
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