After the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, abortion providers and funders in “safe states” like Maryland, where abortion care is comprehensive and protected by state law, anticipate their own set of challenges.
“We have been thinking about and… mobilizing to help mitigate the effects of Roe being overturned for a very long time, at least for the last two years,” said Lynn M. of the Baltimore Abortion Fund. “In Maryland, we recently passed the Abortion Care Access Act, which does a number of things to make abortion care accessible for residents in Maryland. It eliminates the private insurance deductible, it eliminates some of the loopholes in Medicaid that had previously prevented people from using their Medicaid benefits as intended to pay for abortion care, and it also expands the types of qualified providers that can provide abortion procedures in Maryland.”
Many Maryland abortion providers anticipate the state will become a likely destination for people from states losing abortion access, leading to a potential capacity crisis.
“We are going to lose abortion access in probably half the country,” said Dr. Diana Horvath, MPH, an OB/GYN and abortion care provider. “So we know that capacity is going to have to go up in states that have friendlier climates for abortion.”
Activists and some elected officials in Maryland have also been pressuring Gov. Larry Hogan to release the $3.5 million set aside in the Abortion Care Access Act for the training of abortion providers across the state in 2022. Hogan has so far refused. It is likely that these funds will not be accessible until 2023. This funding delay will add to the capacity crisis that many Maryland abortion providers see on the horizon as Maryland becomes a likely destination for people from states that have lost abortion access.
By 2023, there will be a new governor of Maryland. Democratic Party nominee for governor Wes Moore has called for protecting abortions in the state constitution. If Moore were to win in November, he promised that his first act in office would be to release the $3.5 million Hogan has been sitting on. Moore has also called for protecting abortion in the state constitution. Republican nominee for governor Dan Cox voted against the Abortion Care Acess Act while he was in the state House of Delegates. He is staunchly anti-choice and has said he would never support spending taxpayer money on access to abortions. Cox went a step further when the Supreme Court officially announced it was overturning Roe v. Wade. The Frederick County Republican posted on his Facebook page that the announcement was “a day to rejoice.”
Horvath notes that ending abortion care in large swaths of the country will not only impact people seeking abortion from out of state, but will have a direct impact on Marylanders as well.
“People in Maryland have enjoyed comparatively good access to abortion… you can [typically] call and get an appointment within the next week. That’s going to change if we get a lot of people from out of state, and that’s why we need to increase capacity now,” Horvath said. “I’ve heard [Marylanders] say, ‘Well, how is it going to affect me?’ and, well, that’s how it’s going to affect you: you’re not going to get in two days after you call because the clinics are going to be full of people who can’t get care near their home.”
Horvath is part of a group in Maryland developing an all-trimester abortion clinic called Partners in Abortion Care. Horvath, the co-founder and medical director, said the clinic will open soon in the city of College Park to help address the impending capacity crisis.
“We decided that we’d like something close to freeways and also accessible to the three major airports that are in the region, and that was a major reason why we picked something that was just inside the DC Beltway and accessible by road, accessible by transit,” Horvath said. “We didn’t want to pick something so far out that people couldn’t use transit to get there.”
Partners in Abortion Care has also established bonds with abortion funds and providers throughout the South to help ensure that the people who need their services are able to access them: “We’ve spent a lot of time building relationships with people. And I actually work in two clinics in Alabama,” Horvath said.
Due to an increase in donations to their GoFundMe after the Supreme Court opinion was leaked in June, Partners in Abortion Care are optimistic the new clinic will likely open this fall.
“We have been incredibly, incredibly amazed by the way that our community has come together after that draft got leaked. Our GoFundMe had been out for about a month before that, but after that draft decision came down we got a lot of donations, and they went from anywhere from a dollar up to many thousands of dollars,” Horvath said.
In addition to increasing the capacity for abortions within the state of Maryland, Lynn M. points to many other things people in Maryland can do in the face of the decision in Dobbs.
“[They can] connect with local abortion funds, grassroots organizations on the ground who have been doing the work, and lend their energy and their support and leverage their donations to further that work as opposed to recreating it or starting it from scratch,” she said.
A version of this story was previously published at The Real News Network, a partner with Baltimore Beat.