Abortion

Photo by Karolina Grabowska: https://www.pexels.com/photo/two-women-writing-on-cardboards-8107760/.

With bad news in seemingly every headline, things have taken a positive spin in recent weeks … at least in Maryland. 

Maryland lawmakers voted on April 9 to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of an expansive abortion bill that would allow varying health practitioners, including nurses, midwives and physician assistants to perform abortions. 

Both chambers in the state of Maryland have a Democratic majority, and this decision likely wouldn’t have occurred if that weren’t the case. 

The law, which is in place in 14 other states, will go into effect July 1. In addition to expanding the range of medical professionals who can perform abortions, the law also requires most insurance providers in the state to cover the cost of an abortion and directs Maryland to invest $3.5 million a year in abortion-care training. 

In his veto, Hogan claimed that the bill would risk lowering the standard of reproductive health care services in Maryland.  

It’s time to call it what it is. Hogan, a Republican, simply didn’t want to expand access to abortion across the state. Using scapegoats doesn’t hide that abortion has increasingly become a partisan issue. 

Hogan’s claim regarding reproductive health care standards was more subtle than his Republican counterparts in other states, like Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, for instance. Abbott claimed in a ceremony that he signed the Texas “Heartbeat Bill” into effect because “our creator endowed us with the right to life.” 

It is inevitable that religion influences the decisions of those in office, but pushing religious beliefs onto an entire state population subjects citizens to measures that they don’t necessarily align with. 

It is interesting that Abbott and other Republican politicians take a “pro-life” stance, when statistically, more pregnant people are likely to die if abortion were banned. According to University of Colorado Boulder research, banning abortion nationwide would lead to an overall 21% increase in pregnancy-related deaths, and a 33% in deaths among Black women. 

Instead of solving the causes of unwanted or unsafe pregnancies by pushing legislation targeted at providing universal health care, accessible contraception and comprehensive sex education, Republican politicians are targeting pregnant people. 

This argument is overstated, and to be frank, I am tired of arguing for it. I am tired of female bodies being the center of political debates. I am tired of having to fight people without uteruses on why reproductive healthcare should be protected and I am tired of constantly listing statistics that no Republican lawmaker will ever listen to. 

In states with Republican party control, overriding a veto like Hogan’s is an unlikely occurrence. Instead, restrictive abortion bans are imposed.  

For now, change happens at the local level by voting for politicians that support the right to choose. Change happens by listening to female voices, especially voices of those who face economic insecurity and oppression. 

The fight is not over — not in Texas, not in Maryland and not any other state in the U.S. While it is applaudable that Maryland, joining 14 other states, is going to provide expanded access to abortion care, the state's bill only expands financial coverage of abortions to those with health insurance. 

Unfortunately, this abandons well-researched statistics. It likely isn’t the fault of lawmakers, but rather the capitalist system that we exist under. Removing financial barriers only for those with insurance fails to address a much larger problem. 

According to the National Library of Medicine, parents of lower socioeconomic status and parents in minority racial groups in the U.S. have higher rates of abortion than people of higher socioeconomic status and white people. 

Those women are often uninsured and unable to cover the full cost of abortion. Equitable access to abortion would entail covering the cost of abortion regardless of insurance. 

Maryland has, however, taken measures to prevent unwanted pregnancies through the Maryland Contraceptive Equality Act, effective as of 2018, that provides expanded access to birth control at little to no cost. 

We can’t expect immediate change. The state-level legislative override of Gov. Hogan’s veto is a step in the right direction. 

Take notes, Texas.

Kaelyn New is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @kaelyn_new.

News Editor

Kaelyn New is a junior from Denver, Colorado and is in her first semester as a news editor after being a staff writer for the past two semesters.