SB 904 — Maryland Department of Health – Family Planning Program - Funding

Committee: Senate Finance

Position: OPPOSE

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) offers this testimony in OPPOSITION of Senate Bill (SB 904). The Conference represents the public policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.

SB 904 aims to mandate the prohibition of the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) from accepting any federal funding under the Title X Family Planning Program if that program (1) excludes family planning providers that offer abortions and (2) does not require such abortion providers to extend a broad range of acceptable and effective medically approved family planning methods and services.

Under SB 904, family planning providers would instead preemptively receive the same level of Federal funding from the State budget beginning July 19, 2019. The Governor’s proposed fiscal 2020 budget includes $9.2 million ($6.0 million in general funds and $3.2 million in federal funds) for the Title X Family Planning Program. Under SB 904 this funding would increase by at least $1.0 million beginning in fiscal year 2021 and would continue annually every year thereafter.

“The Government has no constitutional duty to subsidize an activity merely because it is constitutionally protected, and may validly choose to allocate public funds for medical services relating to childbirth but not to abortion.” (Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U. S. 490, 492 U. S. 510.) A 2019 Marist Poll shows that only 39% of Americans support using tax dollars to pay for a woman’s abortion. SB 904 represents a negative policy development, because it inappropriately burdens Maryland taxpayers to fund abortion procedures.

The Conference works to foster a culture of life by advocating for laws that uphold the dignity of the human person and that assist pregnant women in need, while working to ensure the State offers safe standards for women’s health. OPPOSING SB 904 does not infringe on the reproductive rights of women as Maryland passed legislation in 2017 to protect Title X funding. It is for these reasons that the Conference respectfully urges an unfavorable report for SB 904. Thank you for your consideration.