As the country enters a post-Roe America, Delaware’s General Assembly passed legislation on Tuesday to expand abortion access and protect those traveling to the First State to terminate.
The legislation, which was passed in the Senate and now heads to the governor, would allow licensed physician assistants, certified nurse practitioners and nurse midwives to provide procedural abortions. It also protects those who come to Delaware for an abortion, and the health care providers who perform them.
Delaware is one of the few states to have codified abortion as state law. The Senate vote on Tuesday was June 15, with Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, being the sole Republican to vote for the legislation.
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The country’s highest court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, which means Americans no longer have national abortion protections. It will now be decided by the states, more than half of which are expected to ban or severely restrict abortion, if they haven’t done so already.
Though abortion will remain legal in the First State, that doesn’t mean it is easily accessible. Planned Parenthood is the predominant abortion provider here, with three of its clinics offering services one day a week. The organization says this legislation passed Tuesday would allow Planned Parenthood to add more abortion service days, and possibly double its services.
The wait time for abortion here currently hovers around three weeks.
More people are expected to travel to Delaware for abortions as it becomes restricted throughout most of the country. As of 2019, nearly 14% of abortions done in Delaware were performed on out-of-state residents. Many traveled from Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Though experts now predict people could travel from much farther places.
The bill will protect medical privacy, limit to other states for criminal charges related to abortion, shield people from civil actions in other states and protect professional licenses, among other protections.
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This is the second piece of abortion legislation the General Assembly passed this year. In the spring, lawmakers voted to allow more health care workers to provide medicated abortions, which is the most common type of abortion in Delaware and the country.
When Politico in May published a leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling, which overturned abortion, lawmakers decided to pass a more expansive bill before the session ended June 30.
“Once the Roe leak happened,” Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, a New Castle Democrat, said in an interview, “it was like, ‘You know what, we need to get this done today.’ Because we have to ensure that we can protect our Delaware women, but also show that we’re good neighbors to women outside of Delaware.”
Many of the Senate Republicans admonished the legislation on Tuesday.
Sen. Bryant Richardson, R-Seaford, said the legislation will secure Delaware’s “shameful” place as an abortion destination. Following the ruling on Friday, Richardson, in statement, promoting the “brave justices” for their decision.
Contact Meredith Newman at (302) 256-2466 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @MereNewman.