In July 2011, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene began a stakeholder process to develop regulations for surgical abortion providers under Health General Article 20-209, which states:
The Department may adopt regulations that: (1) Are both necessary and the least intrusive method to protect the life or health of the woman; and (2) Are not inconsistent with established medical practice.
Stakeholders involved in the process included the Maryland Catholic Conference, Planned Parenthood of Maryland, and others. Over the course of the next several months, the Department shared draft regulations with stakeholders, reviewed nearly 1200 comments from the public, and made changes based on the constructive feedback received.
In December 2011, the Department formally proposed regulations, and in July 2012, after additional public comment and completion of the rulemaking process, the Department adopted final regulations. As a result of these actions, Maryland surgical abortion facilities became subject to licensure for the first time. The new regulations supplement state oversight of licensed physicians and other health care professionals. The regulations are codified at COMAR 10.12.01.
Implementation of the Regulations
The Department’s Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ) has made steady progress toward full implementation, periodically updating the public and the Maryland General Assembly.
Initial Licensure Surveys and Complaint Investigations
The Department has now completed initial licensure surveys of the 16 licensed surgical abortion facilities in the state. In addition to the initial surveys, OHCQ has investigated complaints directed at specific facilities.
As part of this process, each facility was surveyed by OHCQ. If deficiencies were found during these surveys, a plan of correction was required to be submitted and approved by OHCQ. Through this process, to date, 12 facilities have been found to be in compliance with regulatory standards.
For each of the 16 licensed surgical abortion facilities, the OHCQ deficiency statement, the facility’s plan of correction, and the letter of acceptance from OHCQ may be found at the link below. These include both initial licensure surveys and complaint investigations by facility.