BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new Maryland law is opening up family planning services to thousands of women and teens.
Monique Griego has more on the big changes that are expected to save lives.
Unplanned and teen pregnancies and infant deaths are three major targets of a new Maryland law.
“This is not just a stake in today; this is a stake in our future,” said Delegate Heather Mizeur.
State Senator Catherine Pugh teamed up with Montgomery County delegate Mizeur to pass a law that opens up free family planning services to women having their first baby.
“Family planning services for your first child is the most important thing we can do to tackle the chronic and persistent infant mortality rates in this state,” Mizeur said.
Maryland ranks 42nd in the nation when it comes to infant mortality. Statewide, this new law will give 35,000 women and teens access to crucial medical care and free birth control.
“Empower women to have babies when it makes sense for them, helping them break cycles of poverty,” Mizeur said.
Melanie Townsend Diggs is happy to know more women will get help like she received.
“What could we do without them, you know?” she said.
But in order for this new program to work, health care leaders need to get the word out and they’re doing that with a new outreach program.
“We have to make sure that more women know about this coverage and get enrolled,” Mizeur said.
Diggs believes women need to know care is available.
“That you’re not alone and that there’s some help for you,” she said.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, providing family planning services will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by 23 percent and 39 percent among low-income women.