Maryland Governor Wes Moore signed six bills into law on Wednesday. Two of the bills signed into law are meant to protect abortion rights and gender-affirming care.
“In our state, no one should ever have to justify their humanity,” said the Democratic governor during the signing.
While some Democrat-led states have passed similar protections, Other state legislatures with a Republican majority have passed near-total abortion bans and other measures, CNN reports.
“While other states are dead set on ripping away reproductive rights and attempting to erase the existence of trans and nonbinary individuals, we’re doing the opposite,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said in a statement. “We’re making Maryland a state that is welcoming, inclusive, and that safeguards the rights of all people.”
Along with making abortion a “fundamental right,” the new legislation requires public schools and universities to “develop and implement a reproductive health services plan,” which includes providing students with access to over-the-counter contraception.
Under one measure, judges are banned from ordering persons to offer testimony or evidence in other states’ prosecutions alleging a violation of criminal law for getting or assisting with health treatment that is protected in Maryland. Another measure regulates how medical information is disclosed to ensure the confidentiality of abortion procedures and care.
“I want to say to all the women who are out there who are wondering what will happen, who are worried about their future—please hear me loud and clear: Maryland will always be a safe haven for abortion access and abortion rights,” Moore said.
The governor also signed the Trans Health Equity Act, which protects access to gender-affirming care by requiring Medicaid to provide coverage for such care in a “nondiscriminatory manner” starting January 1, 2024.
Although legislation protecting gender-affirming healthcare has been passed in several states, it has become a hot-button issue in the GOP. According to data gathered by the American Civil Liberties Union, 122 measures that “target transgender people, limit local protections and allow the use of religion to discriminate” have been introduced nationwide this legislative session.