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Abortion rights in post-Roe Maryland, Delaware

Practice generally legal, with some restrictions

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (Public domain photo)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, which in 1973 found that the decision to receive an abortion was generally protected by the Constitution of the United States. With the broadest federal protection of abortion access now rescinded, the legality of abortion will by and large be determined on the state level.

In Delaware, abortion is legal through the Medical Practice Act — but with some restrictions.

After fetal viability, or the point where a fetus can survive outside the uterus, abortion in the First State becomes illegal unless necessary for the patient’s “life or health,” or if the fetus has a condition “for which there is not a reasonable likelihood” that it will survive outside the uterus, according to Subchapter IX of the act

Additionally, under the state’s Parental Notice of Abortion Act, physicians cannot perform a surgical abortion on minors under the age of 16 unless the patient’s parent or guardian has received at least 24 hours notice from a medical professional. Notice is not required for nonsurgical abortions.

On the federal level, the funding of abortion is illegal through the 1977 Hyde Amendement “except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive rights advocacy organization. States are only federally required to fund abortions that meet these conditions through federal-state Medicaid programs. 

While some states also fund abortions deemed medically necessary regardless of whether they endanger a patient’s life, Delaware state law does not extend beyond federal guidelines: The state only funds abortions in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.

Abortion legislation in Delaware mirrors neighboring Maryland, whose laws include similar restrictions on abortion after fetal viability and abortion for minors under the age of 16. But abortion laws in these states are generally more restrictive than other mid-Atlantic counterparts, such as New Jersey and New York.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) weighed in on the state’s abortion law on Friday.

“In 1992, Maryland voters approved a constitutional referendum legalizing and protecting access to abortion as a matter of state law – that measure remains in effect today following the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of Maryland, and that is what I have always done and will continue to do as governor.”

The impact of Roe v. Wade’s fall in Delaware remains uncertain. While the abortion rate in Delaware steadily declined between 2014 and 2017, recent findings show that instances of abortion are increasing once again in the state, reflecting a rise on the national level.

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Maryland

AIDS Action Baltimore to honor John Waters at 35th anniversary commemoration

Honorees to include John Waters and Pat Moran

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John Waters (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

AIDS Action Baltimore will mark 35 years of service next month by paying tribute to six people who have helped keep it in operation, including filmmaker John Waters and his friend and movie industry colleague Pat Moran.

AIDS Action Baltimore’s 35th Anniversary Commemoration, planned for Sept.18, is a cocktail reception and brunch that’s also a fundraiser for the non-profit organization, which was started in 1987 to fight HIV/AIDS and provide a safety net for people living with HIV/AIDS and experiencing a financial emergency.

“John has supported us from the beginning,” said Lynda Dee, co-founder and executive director of the organization. “All of his movie premieres benefitted AIDS Action Baltimore. Without his help, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Waters has directed 16 movies and written 10 books, and he was named in June to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Based in Baltimore, he has two museum exhibits coming up, “Coming Attractions: The John Waters Collection,” an exhibit of art from his personal collection that he’s donating to the Baltimore Museum of Art, at the museum from Nov. 20, 2022, to April 16, 2023, and “Pope of Trash,” a career retrospective at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles next summer.

Moran is a three-time Emmy Award-winning casting director who has worked closely with Waters and others on films and television shows made in Baltimore. She is one of three co-founders of AIDS Action Baltimore, along with Dee and Garey Lambert, who passed away in 1987.

Waters said he’s pleased to support AIDS Action Baltimore. 

“I’m really happy to be involved,” he said. “Pat was one of the first people that started it. I’ve been a supporter always just because I believe I’m lucky I didn’t die of it. Plain and simple. I give money as a superstition that I won’t ever get it. And Lynda Dee is a tireless AIDS warrior. The gay community owes her great, great credit … It’s an organization in Baltimore that has kept many, many people alive … I’m just honored to help them in any way I can.”

Other honorees include:

Richard Chaisson, professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and principal investigator of the Hopkins Center for AIDS Research;

Carla Alexander, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a fellow of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care, and an internationally recognized expert for those living with HIV disease;

Debbie Rock, a disco singer-turned-HIV activist who is the founding CEO of LIGHT Health and Wellness, a non-profit that provides a range of services for children, families and individuals in Baltimore affected by poverty, addiction, mental illness, HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses, including day care and respite care for children with HIV/AIDS; and

Carlton Smith, a community health worker with the state of Maryland, founder of the Center for Black Equity, and chair of the Ryan White Planning Council, which provides medical care and support services for people with HIV in Baltimore. 

Since 1987, AIDS Action Baltimore has helped more than 8,750 people, distributing $3.145 million in assistance for items such as rent and utilities. It also has a number of programs to fight HIV, from town hall meetings to testing assistance to prevention campaigns, including outreach efforts to at-risk populations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31,676 people aged 13 and older were living in Maryland with diagnosed HIV at the end of 2020, and an estimated 3,559 people in Maryland were living with undiagnosed HIV at the end of 2019.

Dee wrote in June that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for AIDS Action Baltimore to provide the services it does.

“COVID-19 is eating a large percentage of U. S. Health and Human Services funding,” she wrote she in an open letter to friends of the organization. “We are in danger of losing all our hard-won treatment and prevention gains. Because of COVID-19, it is much harder to obtain the money we need to fight HIV.” 

That’s why AIDS Action Baltimore holds events such as the one next month, she added: “We are still doing our best to help ourselves.” 

AIDS Action Baltimore’s 35th Anniversary Commemoration will be held at the Belvedere (1 E. Chase St.) in Baltimore, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 18. Tickets cost $175 per person or $1,750 for a table of 10. They’re available at aidsactionbaltimore.org or by calling 410-437-AIDS. 

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Montgomery County Council approves bill for gender-inclusive, single-use restrooms

Measure passed by 9-0 vote margin on July 26

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Montgomery County Council has approved a bill that will pave the way for gender-inclusive, single-user restrooms in public and county-owned buildings.

The council in a 9-0 vote on July 26 passed Bill 4-22

The bill requires at least one single-user restroom available for all gender identities in a place of public accommodation or county-owned buildings with signage that designates it as gender-inclusive.

Council member Sidney Katz and Council Vice President Evan Glass, who is the first gay man elected to the Montgomery County Council, co-sponsored the bill.

“This bill is supported by many advocacy groups including those representing the disability community and the LGBTQ+ community,” said Katz in a press news release, following the bill’s approval. “It is well reasoned, will not be burdensome to implement and will help everyone feel more comfortable.”

Beyond increasing accessibility for people of various gender identities and expressions, this bill also means to benefit people with disabilities with caregivers who are of a different gender, and parents with children of a different gender who may require assistance using a public restroom. 

“We want everyone in Montgomery County to feel welcome here,” Glass told the Blade on Wednesday in a statement. “Members of our trans, nonbinary and disability communities often feel anxious and ignored by the choices of restrooms in commercial spaces. This legislation will help them and also provide relief for families with young children and caregivers who oftentimes are left waiting outside a restroom.” 

Local activists also supported the bill.

“As a person with disabilities that sometimes needs assistance in the bathroom, gendered single occupancy stalls are stressful for both my spouse and I because we are perceived as differently gendered than one another,” said Ezra Towne, a Montgomery County activist, during a public hearing on the bill.

The bill exempts some locations that include private restrooms in a residence; a hospital; inn, hotel, motel, or an establishment that provides lodging for transient guests; or restrooms that are only accessible from a private room or office. 

Similar legislation has been implemented in Maryland — Salisbury, Baltimore City and Howard County — and in cities across the country that include Seattle; Philadelphia and Austin, Texas. California has also enacted a similar measure.

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Md. presses federal government for more monkeypox vaccine doses

State has 129 confirmed cases

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(Photo by HalfPoint via Bigstock)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Health on Tuesday pressed the federal government for more monkeypox vaccine doses to states.

“While vaccine supply from the federal government is severely limited at this time, anyone who believes that they may need testing or treatment should contact their healthcare provider or local health department immediately.” Hogan said in a statement that detailed updated information about monkeypox. “We will keep pressing the federal government to provide more vaccines to the states and do all we can to make resources available to those at risk.”

“We want to emphasize that the goal is limiting the spread of the virus and vaccinating those who may have been exposed in the prior two weeks,” Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services Jinlene Chan added. “Due to the limited supply of the vaccine from the federal government, the state is working closely with local health partners to make doses available in a manner that focuses on locations that have case counts and higher-risk populations. We plan to expand access to the vaccine as more supply becomes available.”

According to the latest release, 3,202 patients will be able to get the two-dose Jynneos vaccine in Maryland, as allocated by the federal government. Vaccination priority will be given to identified close contacts and health workers exposed to infection. People whose sexual partners have been diagnosed over the last two weeks and those who are members of high-risk populations will be able to access the vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported there are 129 lab-confirmed monkeypox cases in Maryland, constituting 2.2 percent of cases nationwide. Most of the reported cases have been found in the National Capital Region. 

Individuals who believe they were exposed to monkeypox or have similar symbols should contact their medical provider. People without a provider or insurance should visit health.maryland.gov/CSTIP/local to find contact information for their local health department.

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