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Md. expanded abortion access. But Hogan won’t pay to train providers.

Lawmakers set aside $3.5 million to train nurse midwives, physician assistants and others to perform abortions. But the governor will not launch the training program in July, effectively delaying it for a year.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) last month in Kensington, Md. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Amid intense focus on abortion rights, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has decided to withhold the $3.5 million that state lawmakers designated for training new providers, his spokesman said.

The decision effectively delays the state’s new abortion provider training program for a year and comes as the popular governor winds down his time in office and sharpens his national ambitions.

The money is part of the state’s biggest expansion of abortion access in three decades. Hogan vetoed the plans this spring but was overruled by Democratic supermajorities in Annapolis who worried that what they see as Maryland’s already insufficient provider network would become overwhelmed if nearby states outlawed abortion. Abortion advocates are bracing for an influx of patients.

Hogan’s use of discretionary budgetary power illustrates how an antiabortion leader can thwart new programs even in liberal states such as Maryland that have deeply supported abortion rights for decades.

How might the end of Roe v. Wade affect you?

“There have been a lot of people who voted for people who did not share their values on choice, and they figured it wouldn’t matter. And now we’re seeing elections have consequences,” said Del. Ariana B. Kelly (D-Montgomery), the lead sponsor of Maryland’s abortion access law.

“If someone is running for public office and tells you they don’t support reproductive rights, believe them,” she said.

Hogan, a Catholic who says he is personally against abortion, was twice elected in a state where 88 percent of residents think abortion should be legal. He has been silent this week after a leaked draft opinion signaled the possibility that the Supreme Court would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide. Hogan has promised not to try to change Maryland’s long-standing abortion laws, enacted after a public referendum in the early 1990s.

Hogan said he was adhering to that promise when he vetoed the expansion.

Other pieces of the expansion will still take effect in July, forcing insurance companies and Medicaid to cover the full expense of abortions with no cost to patients and widening which medical providers can perform the procedure.

With federal abortion protections under threat, Maryland’s Democratic lawmakers removed a long-standing restriction that allowed only physicians to perform the procedure.

Roe threat enlivens Maryland’s governor race

Private organizations can train providers to perform abortions, and advocates said most medical abortions do not require extensive training. Maryland’s law requires that $3.5 million be spent each year starting in July 2023 to make sure clinicians have the training they need

A leaked copy of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion, first reported by Politico, refers to requests from 26 states to the high court seeking authority to regulate or prohibit abortions. Since most abortion training takes place in clinical settings, if those states ban abortion, medical training to perform abortions could be severely curtailed, Kelly said.

The money to begin training in Maryland this year, however, is tied up the state’s wonky budgetary process.

A separate budget deal among Democratic state lawmakers set aside $3.5 million for the training to begin in July, but Maryland’s constitution does not require the governor to honor such deals. He’s barred from spending that money on anything besides abortion training, but he can use his discretion on whether to spend it at all.

Hogan spokesman Michael Ricci said Tuesday night that Hogan would not spend it and plans to implement a version of the budget that “reflects the bipartisan agreement with legislative leaders, and includes $2 billion for their priorities.”

What would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned

Two-thirds of Maryland counties have no abortion providers, according to the pro-abortion-rights research group Guttmacher Institute. A network of nonprofits, such as the Baltimore Abortion Fund, have for years summoned volunteers to provide rides and other support to pregnant people needing help.

“People have a state-protected right but still face barriers in actually getting an abortion,” said Lynn McCann, co-director of the Baltimore Abortion Fund.

The prospect of additional clients coming from nearby conservative states that may ban abortion, such as West Virginia, has those organizations seeking additional long-term volunteers and donations, McCann said.

Providers can be trained to perform the procedure without state resources, and Planned Parenthood of Maryland intends to start on its own.

Kyle Bukowski, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood, said the organization will focus first on training all of its existing staff before offering training to providers outside of the Planned Parenthood network.

Abortion immediately became a focus of the governor’s race this week, with the crowded Democratic field united in promises to protect access to abortion and top Republican contenders divided on their approach.

While Trump-backed Republican Del. Daniel L. Cox (Frederick) cheered the possibility that abortion rights could be curtailed, Hogan-backed candidate Kelly Schulz echoed the governor’s position that she was personally against abortion but would not change existing laws.

The politics of the issue have changed since Hogan used that position as he wooed Maryland voters. Hogan could largely dodge abortion questions during his tenure but was forced to take a stance this spring.

Roe v. Wade and abortion access in America

Roe v. Wade overturned: The Supreme Court has struck down Roe v. Wade, which for nearly 50 years has protected the right to abortion. Read the full decision here.

What happens next?: The legality of abortion will be left to individual states. That likely will mean 52 percent of women of childbearing age would face new abortion limits. Thirteen states with “trigger bans” will ban abortion within 30 days. Several other states where recent antiabortion legislation has been blocked by the courts are expected to act next.

State legislation: As Republican-led states move to restrict abortion, The Post is tracking legislation across the country on 15-week bans, Texas-style bans, trigger laws and abortion pill bans, as well as Democratic-dominated states that are moving to protect abortion rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade.

How our readers feel: In the hours that followed the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Washington Post readers responded in droves to a callout asking how they felt — and why.

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