**FILE** A pro-choice demonstrator at the U.S. Supreme Court building (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
**FILE** A pro-choice demonstrator at the U.S. Supreme Court building (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this summer, more than 15 U.S. states have passed tight restrictions or approved outright bans on abortion. 

And while D.C., Maryland and Virginia have yet to follow the growing trend among states, that doesn’t mean residents here in the DMV should stop paying attention as sweeping legislation changes the terrain and the rights of and choices available to women. 

“It is of critical importance that we keep telling stories of how the Supreme Court’s recent ruling is affecting real people every day,” said Betsy Harned, vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington. 

“The vast majority of people in this country are pro-access to abortion and are against the ruling that just came out from the Supreme Court. We need to make sure that those voices are heard,” she said. 

In Maryland, supporters of abortion access scored a win with the Abortion Care Access Act, which passed in April and went into effect July 1. The law expanded insurance coverage for an abortion, increases the types of medical professionals who can perform abortions and funded training for new abortion care providers. 

“We never take anything for granted – even in Maryland – we have to keep fighting to further expand and protect abortion access” said Harned who added that of the three municipalities in the region, Maryland has the strongest protections related to abortion rights. 

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has indicated that he plans to pursue a ban on all abortions beyond the 15-week mark. 

However, in recent months, the slim majority held by Democrats (21 to 20) in the state senate has prevented a 20-week ban proposed in February and an effort in June by Youngkin to prohibit people on government-funded programs like Medicaid from using their insurance for abortions in the case of fetal anomalies (state funds are already not allowed to pay for abortions in most cases under Virginia law). 

Republicans currently control the state House of Delegates. However, that could change as legislators in both chambers will be up for reelection in 2023. 

D.C. Council members and residents continue to be in favor of abortion access but abortion providers and legal experts point out that Congressional control may pose a threat to the protections the city currently has in place.

“Not being a state is a huge vulnerability for the rights of D.C. residents,” Harned said noting that Congress already imposes some restrictions on abortion access in the District through a policy called the Dornan Amendment. 

“Every year, Congress passes legislation that prohibits D.C. from using locally-raised tax dollars to be able to provide abortion coverage through Medicaid,” she said. 

Still, Harned said providers of reproductive services want DMV residents to know that abortion is still completely legal and safe in the area. Planned Parenthood Metro Washington locations – in Northwest, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County – have all seen an increase in inquiries. However, official numbers have not been released that would confirm an increase in the number of appointments booked following the Supreme Court decision. 

“We’re doing everything we can to meet the need both locally and for anyone who might come to our area, including the potential for an increased number of patients traveling from other states,” Harned said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.