Hogan won’t release funds to expand abortion education | Health, Medicine and Fitness

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will not grant a request from the state comptroller on Wednesday to immediately make $3.5 million available to pay for training to prepare professionals for healthcare other than doctors to perform abortions when a new law takes effect this summer, a spokesperson said.

Michael Ricci, the spokesman, said in a statement that the Republican governor “strongly believes, as indicated in his veto of this partisan measure, that unlicensed physicians should not perform these medical procedures.”

“Suddenly releasing taxpayers’ money for this purpose would run counter to these concerns about rolling back standards for women’s health,” Ricci wrote in an email.

Comptroller Peter Franchot, the state tax collector seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, this week cited a leaked version of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that suggested the conservative majority of the court was about to overturn Roe v. Wade – the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

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“Given the significant danger that the Court’s impending decision poses to millions of women and families, I ask that you immediately release the $3.5 million allocated to the fiscal year 2023 operating budget to fund programs abortion care training at community and hospital-based provider sites,” Franchot wrote in a time-limited letter to the governor.

The comptroller said in a statement after his office was briefed on the governor’s position that he hoped Hogan would reconsider.

“We can afford to do this now, and it’s critical that Maryland remain a national leader in protecting women’s rights, liberty and health care,” Franchot said.

If the Supreme Court overturns the Roe decision, at least 26 states are likely to ban abortions, including neighboring West Virginia, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group.

“The demand for abortion care will dramatically increase as a result, and Maryland must and should be prepared to provide these essential services,” Franchot wrote.

The comptroller called on the governor to release the money for training at community and hospital provider sites.

Ricci criticized the comptroller for raising the issue at the height of tax season while campaigning in a crowded primary.

“When our office receives dozens of calls each week from frustrated Marylanders seeking (tax) assistance from the comptroller’s office, it is deeply concerning to see him being distracted and campaigning at taxpayer expense,” Ricci said.

Maryland’s General Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, this year approved legislation to expand access to abortion by lifting a state-imposed restriction that only doctors provide to them. Hogan vetoed the measure, but lawmakers overruled his veto.

The new law will allow nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and medical assistants to provide training on abortions. It also creates an abortion care training program with state funding.

The law mandates state funding for training in fiscal year 2024. The legislature also limited $3.5 million for use in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, for training begins earlier, although releasing these funds requires Governor approval.

Planned Parenthood of Maryland pointed out in testimony before the legislature that Maryland already has a shortage of providers in rural parts of the state.

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