More health workers to provide abortions in Maryland

While abortion has been or is expected to be banned or severely restricted in more than half of the states in that country, others are moving in the opposite direction and working to increase access. One way they do this is by expanding the workforce. A law will come into force in Maryland on Friday that will allow qualified health care providers in addition to doctors to perform abortions, including medical assistants, practicing nurses and midwives.

“My first reaction was: finally,” said Erin Wright, a certified midwife who practices in Maryland. “Because these are sets of skills that are not difficult to learn. We really already have them. ”

Wright holds a doctorate in nursing and gives birth to babies at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She is also a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and said she knows she is capable of performing early abortions.

“Early abortion care is medical abortion,” Wright said. “This is the same recipe we would often write if someone had an early pregnancy loss.”

Wright also expects that midwives will also be able to terminate pregnancies in other ways using certain office procedures.

“According to the American College of Midwifery Nurses, midwives have the ability to do manual vacuum extractions, which is suction,” Wright said. “It’s no harder than putting on a mascara, which is something we do every day.”

Wright said Maryland’s law is important now because there are no longer enough suppliers to meet demand, which is expected to increase.

“We are one of the southernmost states on the East Coast, which not only provides but also expands access to abortion care. So we are about to see a large influx of people from other states who will need these services, “Wright said.

In anticipation of this influx, another certified midwife, Morgan Nuso, partnered with a physician to open a so-called full-trimester abortion clinic in College Park, Maryland, called Partners in Abortion Care.

“We received the keys on Wednesday and started repairs on Thursday, and we hope to open them in the fall,” Nutso said.

Nuzzo’s team purchased their equipment from a clinic that is closing in Savannah, Georgia.

Under specific circumstances, Maryland allows abortions relatively late in pregnancy, in the third trimester, and this will be one of the few clinics in the country that offer this.

“Many of our patients who come have a poor diagnosis of the fetus or some life-threatening situation in which they usually fly from somewhere else in the country to reach us,” Nutso said.

Nuzzo said Maryland’s new law is essential to the decision to locate the clinic in the state.

“We knew I would have a full range of practice and I knew I could attract other midwives, others [advanced practice clinicians]medical assistants practicing nurses, and that we will be able to train them, ”Nutso said.

By the end of the year, 19 states and Washington, D.C., will allow these advanced clinicians, in addition to doctors, to perform abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health policy organization.

Maryland’s new law also provides $ 3.5 million a year to train providers on how to perform abortions.

“This is very unusual,” said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst at Gutmacher. “I don’t know of any other state that has an abortion training position.”

Some are critical of the job expansion, including Laura Bogley, Maryland’s legislative director for the right to life. She said the new law promotes what she called “abortion tourism”.

“Maryland’s abortion law is regressive at the moment. We are going in the wrong direction. We do not guarantee that abortions are safe. We are lowering this standard of care, “Bogley said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, vetoed the bill on similar grounds. This veto was overturned by the US legislature.

“It repeals one of the few health and safety regulations on abortion practices that Maryland allowed that requires only licensed doctors to perform abortions,” Bogley said.

At Johns Hopkins, certified midwife Erin Wright said abortion procedures have progressed since Maryland passed a law in the early 1990s that only doctors performed them.

“Previous laws came into force before there was such a thing as a medical abortion, and most things were really surgical. “It’s not like that anymore and it hasn’t been in a long time,” Wright said.

Wright was in the hospital last Friday when the Supreme Court overturned Rowe against Wade.

“I was actually giving birth and giving birth when the news came out,” Wright said. “Everyone was silent for a moment. And then we all just get to work. Because that’s our job, it’s to get to work taking care of the patients. “

Wright said as a midwife, her responsibility is to take care of everyone with a uterus. This may include giving birth to babies, performing a gynecological examination or prescribing birth control. She is now preparing for a future in which her work may include performing abortions.

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