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June 08, 2023

Women’s Health Center Opening In The Abortion Desert Of Western Maryland

Credit: Forbes

Cumberland, in Allegany County, is beautiful—rural and relatively isolated, set in the foothills of the Appalachians. I practiced here for 25 years and still live here. Allegany is also one of the least healthy counties in Maryland, ranking 21 of 24. We are relatively poor and there is almost no public transportation. It’s been difficult to access any specialized care.

The new Women’s Health Center of Maryland held its ribbon-cutting this week. It promises to bring a greatly needed range of services to the region, including abortion. The clinic is being launched by the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia staff, which was forced to stop doing abortions in West Virginia after a near-total abortion ban there. The decision to relocate abortion services to western Maryland was very strategic—the clinic is south of Cumberland, a few miles from Keyser, West Virginia. It will fill an abortion desert, serving women from our state, southwestern Pennsylvania, and Ohio, which also now is restricting women’s access to care. The clinic notes it will provide a phased approach to gradually increase services, beginning with medical and surgical abortions, contraception, and STI testing and treatment. They will add breast and cervical cancer screening and gender-affirming hormone therapy soon.

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