Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Maryland gets an "A"!

 Who Decides?
In NARAL’s most recent issue of Who Decides, a comprehensive guide to reproductive rights in all 50 states, Maryland received the grade of “A”.  Of course, our state isn’t perfect, but Marylanders should consider themselves lucky to live in a state where the right to choose is affirmed, state abortion clinics are protected from protester violence and state aid has increased access to family planning services for low-income women. 

 Unfortunately, many other states and the nation as a whole did not receive such high marks.  For example, the Prevention First Act was recently introduced in Ohio. Similar to a Maryland law, it would mandate that insurance companies that offer prescription coverage to include birth control.  The Ohio measure would go beyond the Maryland law to guarantee sexual assault survivor’s access to EC and require sex-ed to be comprehensive and medically-accurate. Good luck, Ohio!

Arizona is another example of a state lagging behind in ensuring reproductive freedoms. A judge ruled a 24-hour waiting period restriction on abortion to be unconstitutional. The decision was mixed-choice though, as the judge said that the waiting period is not the problem, but forcing women to visit a doctor twice is. He recommended that women be able to get counseling over the phone from a trained staff member 24 hours before their abortion. The judge’s ruling should ease the physical hardship that waiting periods put on women seeking abortions. Read more about 24-hour waiting periods, which states have them, and why they are discriminatory, from the Guttmacher Institute.

We can be glad that there is no 24-hour waiting period in Maryland and that insurance companies covering prescriptions must cover birth control.  The passing of the resolution requiring CPCs to display disclaimers in both Baltimore and Montgomery County is another victory.  Let’s not take this news to mean we can be complacent.  It’s important to remember that the Maryland state legislature hasn’t passed any pro-active, pro-choice legislation in over a decade and anti-choice forces are constantly working to chip away at Maryland women’s right to choose. It is important to keep an eye on choice issues-- positive and negative—here in Maryland and the nation as a whole.

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