Montgomery Co. commits $1 million for grants to abortion service providers

Montgomery County, Maryland, is committing $1 million for grants to abortion service providers following the Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.

The 1973 decision had guaranteed women nationwide the right to an abortion, but a June ruling now leaves the procedure’s legality up to individual states.

In Maryland, where abortion remains legal, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said the money is being committed for grants to qualified community-based organizations that provide reproductive health services — including abortions.

Elrich gathered with other county leaders, state delegates and abortion rights advocates on Thursday to announce the application window for the Fiscal Year 2023 Abortion Access Grant Program had opened. He initially announced his commitment in May, after a Supreme Court draft opinion indicating the court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked to the public.

Grants will range from $50,000 to $500,000.

“We know that people will travel for abortions. They’re going to solve this problem one way or the other and it’s incumbent on us that we make it possible for women anywhere to deal with this in the safest way possible,” Elrich said.

“Montgomery County will do what we can to help protect women, whether they’re in Montgomery County or whether they’re in adjacent states and coming here for help,” he added.

Abortion rights advocate Roz Jonas recalled her 1966 experience with an illegal abortion at age 20, when she was transported by a stranger from Baltimore to a farmhouse about an hour away from the city.

She said the $600 cash procedure was performed by a masked man and without anesthesia — several years before the Supreme Court’s Roe decision.

“Desperate women make desperate choices. Abortion care must be both accessible and affordable — and it must be safe,” said Jonas, who also said her abortion experience fueled her work for reproductive justice in the nonprofit sector — including as the board chair of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Montgomery County’s Health Department and Grants Management Office are accepting applications from community-based organizations that qualify in at least two of the following six funding areas:

  • Assisting with wraparound services to those who are accessing abortion services;
  • Providing grants to organizations in the county that provide abortion services, or that refer patients to abortion services as part of comprehensive family planning and reproductive health education;
  • Providing aid to organizations that are fighting legal battles on behalf of those seeking access to abortion services;
  • Security for providers who offer direct abortion services or referral to abortion services. Providers may require increased safety or security measures as a result of heightened tensions in the political and civic environment;
  • Support for organizations and providers who offer direct abortion services or refer to abortion services to begin practicing in the county; and
  • Grants to facilitate providers of abortion services to offer reduced cost, low cost, or no cost abortion services to women who have financial hardships, to ensure equitable access to abortion services.

A 90-minute information session will be held online Friday, Sept. 9, at 3:30 p.m. A link to the event and a recording of it will be posted here, according to the county.

The deadline to apply for a grant is Oct. 10 at 9 a.m.

Ehrich said women should be able to get an abortion in a safe place, “even if they’re not a resident of Montgomery County.”

“This is critical … for women’s health and women’s economic justice, not only in Maryland and Montgomery County, but throughout the United States,” said Jodi Finkelstein, executive director of Montgomery County’s Commission for Women.

She said the county “has and will continue to be leaders for women when accessing reproductive health services.”

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