Maryland Is The First State To Prevent Planned Parenthood From Being Defunded
Operations for the nonprofit reproductive health care organization of Planned Parenthood will go on no matter what, at least in the state of Maryland. According to the Associated Press, Maryland became the first state to reimburse Planned Parenthood even if it loses federal funding. Republican Gov Larry Hogan gave the approval for the bill to become law without his signature, the Associated Press reported. It's worth mentioning that even if Hogan had intended to veto the bill, it wouldn't have mattered since the bill had enough votes in the council.
The refreshing bill, sponsored by Sen Richard S. Madaleno Jr., arrives at a tense moment. Over the past few years, Republican lawmakers have consistently called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood while attempting to win populist appeal against it by smearing the organization as “anti-life” for providing abortions. Donald Trump himself remains a vociferous opponent of the organization and only recently offered a compromise to continue funding Planned Parenthood as long as it didn't provide abortions. The offer was rejected by Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards.
With nine Planned Parenthood clinics in Maryland, the Associated Press noted the organization serves roughly 25,000 patients in the state. According to the bill, $2 million from Maryland's Medicaid budget along with $700,000 out of the general fund will be allotted to cover expenses in the event that federal funding is taken away.
If such a measure is taken to deprive Planned Parenthood of its financial backing, critical health services that the organization provides—like cancer screenings, tests for sexually transmitted infections, family planning, and more—will be affected.
The CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Karen J. Nelson, praised the "support of our legislature." But she reminded proponents of the law that the efforts to protect Planned Parenthood do not end here and must to go on. "Keep up the fight for women," Nelson said.
As Marylanders, we must remember that a state solution does not change the fact that politicians in Congress are trying to prohibit millions of people from accessing care at Planned Parenthood. It’s incumbent on all of us to keep up the fight for women. No state should have to step in to fulfill the federal government’s responsibility to ensure everyone has access to care.
Maryland's move to protect Planned Parenthood in such precarious times is more than just inspiring. It is necessary and crucial to support a frequently smeared organization that provides essential health care services to around 2.5 million people in America.
However, such a powerful move should not be limited to one state only. After all, a lone state response to federal elimination of funds can only hold up for so long. The Associated Press reported that similar legislative efforts are being eyed by Nevada and Oregon. So, there is some hope.
If more states take on the unapologetic and vocal stance Maryland did and refuse to bow before misinformation and bullying, Planned Parenthood may have a better chance at surviving in an increasingly hostile American landscape.