On Wednesday, Maryland Democratic Governor Wes Moore signed into law two bills that protect and expand access to abortion and gender–affirming care.
“In our state, no one should ever have to justify their humanity,” Moore said at the signing. “In our state, no one should have to justify their own humanness.”
The law enshrines abortion as a “fundamental right” and also mandates public colleges and universities to develop and implement a reproductive health services plan, which includes ensuring that students have access to over–the–counter contraceptives.
The bill also prohibits judges from requiring individuals to provide testimony or evidence in other states’ cases that allege a violation of criminal law for receiving or assisting with health care that is protected in Maryland.
Another measure regulates the disclosure of medical information to ensure that abortion procedures and care remain confidential.
The moves come as several other states, including several with Republican–led legislatures, are moving in the opposite direction to pass near–total bans on abortion and gender–affirming care for minors.
Moore also signed a bill that protects access to gender–affirming care by requiring Medicaid to provide coverage for such care in a “nondiscriminatory manner” starting January 1, 2024.
Gender–affirming care is medically necessary, evidence–based care that uses a multidisciplinary approach to help a person transition from their assigned gender – the one the person was designated at birth – to their affirmed gender – the gender by which one wants to be known.
Meanwhile, more than 120 bills have been introduced nationwide this legislative session that target health care for transgender patients, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Moore sent a clear message about the state’s stance on reproductive care following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last year, which removed federal abortion protections.
“I want to say to all the women who are out there who are wondering what will happen, who are worried about their future – please hear me loud and clear: Maryland will always be a safe haven for abortion access and abortion rights,” Moore said.
Maryland Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller echoed Moore‘s sentiment, saying, “While other states are dead set on ripping away reproductive rights and attempting to erase the existence of trans and nonbinary individuals, we’re doing the opposite. We’re making Maryland a state that is welcoming, inclusive, and that safeguards the rights of all people.”