The Maryland Department of Health announced Tuesday it will begin accepting applications for enrollment in the Abortion Clinical Training Program, $3.5 million in funding for which was released by Gov. Wes Moore at the start of his term.
According to a press release, the program will “help expand the number of healthcare professionals with abortion care training, increase the racial and ethnic diversity among healthcare professionals with abortion care education, and support the identification of clinical sites in need of training.”
In practice, the program will train advanced practice clinicians to perform abortion care in the state. It was created as part of the Abortion Care Access Act that was passed in the General Assembly last year. Though then-Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the measure, it was ultimately overridden by a two-thirds majority in the legislature. Hogan then declined to release funding that could have begun the program in 2022.
Compared to other states, abortion laws in Maryland are rather lenient, but care is disparate. As of 2020, more than 60% of counties in the state do not have an abortion clinic, according to the health department.
During the final two weeks of the 2023 legislative session, additional pieces of legislation that look to expand abortion access and protections are moving through. A bill in both the House and Senate that would give voters in 2024 the option to enshrine the right to an abortion in the Maryland Constitution is well on its way to passage in the second chamber.
Bills aimed at tightening privacy around digital medical records, and ones that would require students at public colleges and universities to have access to reproductive health services on or near the campus, are also likely to pass.
Applications from organizations that wish to host training programs will be accepted through May 15 on the eMaryland Marketplace for funding between July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024.