Maryland’s Republican Governor Withholds Abortion Funds to Defy Legislature

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is battling the state’s legislature over expanding abortion services in the state.

Hogan said that he will refuse to release early funding for a state program to expand abortion access. The program is designed to train non-physicians including midwives to perform abortions. The new law also compels private health insurance companies to cover the cost of abortion procedures with no co-pay requirement.

Hogan originally vetoed the bill. Democrats in the Maryland legislature overrode the veto last month. The state House voted 90-46 and the state Senate voted 29-15 to enact the law despite the governor’s veto.

Now that the bill has been enacted over his objection, the governor has elected against an early release of $3.5 million allocated to training programs for the non-physicians to commit abortions.

The delay in the release of the funding will effectively delay the program from being implemented until July 2023.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot posted a tweet on Wednesday asking Hogan to allow the training funds to be released. He said that as the Supreme Court now appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, Maryland must go forward urgently and with “deliberate speed” to preserve abortion rights in the state.

State Delegate Ariana Kelly (D) was the lead sponsor of the new abortion bill and responded to the governors decision to withhold the training funds harshly. She said many people have probably voted for candidates who do not “share their values on choice” thinking it would not matter. She added that now the state is seeing that elections have consequences.

Hogan has often supported political measures that support abortion. However, he is Catholic and says he is personally pro-life. He has not commented publicly on the leak last week of the draft Supreme Court opinion that indicates a reversal of Roe could be coming soon.

Maryland has seen significant political battles recently over abortion related measures. The state Senate introduced legislation in March that a pro-life attorney’s analysis said would allow infant babies to be left to die up through the first 28 days following birth. After national uproar over the measure, the bill was withdrawn.

The state House has since passed a resolution that is designed to place a question for voters on the ballot for the November election. Voters would be asked whether the state constitution should be amended to expressly protect a right to abortion in the state.