Maryland is joining 14 other states in allowing trained medical professionals other than physicians to perform abortions. That change is part of a bill expanding abortion rights that was passed Saturday by state lawmakers, overriding the veto of Gov. Larry Hogan.
Under the new law, which will take effect July 1, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and trained physician assistants will be able to perform abortions. The law will also require most insurance providers 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 into abortion-care training.
“They stood up for health care, they stood up for 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,” said Karen J. Nelson, the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, referring to Maryland legislators.
Laura Bogley, the 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 law in Maryland comes as many state legislators across the country are seeking to severely limit, or outright ban, access to abortion. State lawmakers enacted 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 by the institute suggests that the country is poised to adopt more anti-abortion restrictions this year. The Supreme Court is also expected to weaken, or even overturn, Roe by the summer.
When Mr. Hogan, a Republican, vetoed the bill on Friday, he wrote in an open letter to the speaker of Maryland’s House of Delegates, Adrienne A. Jones, a Democrat, that allowing non-physicians to perform abortions would “set back standards for women’s health care and safety.”
But the House of Delegates overrode the veto by a vote of 90 to 46. The vote in the State Senate was 29 to 15.
Ms. Bogley said that she and others expect litigation challenging the constitutionality of the new law. “That’s not something the public supports nationally or in Maryland,” she said.
Ms. Nelson maintained that the practice of allowing nonphysicians to perform abortions was normal in other states.
“This is the standard of care in 14 other states,” Ms. Nelson said. “So Maryland, who typically is on the front end of reproductive health care, actually had a little catching up to do here.”