Delaware abortion rights advocates pledge to double down support after Texas passes restrictions

In this March 4, 2020, file photo, abortion rights demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington. Among abortion-rights activists, (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

In this March 4, 2020, file photo, abortion rights demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington. Among abortion-rights activists, (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Delaware Democrats, including the one living in the White House, expressed their outrage over the Supreme Court decision that allowed a Texas law effectively banning abortion after six weeks to stand.

“Now, more than ever, we all need to stand up and help protect women’s health care and make certain that abortions are made safe and legal,” said state House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst. “That’s exactly what we’re trying to do here today in Delaware.”

President Joe Biden said the Texas law “blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century.” He said his administration is “deeply committed” to that right and will protect and defend it.

Fearing an attack on Roe v. Wade as President Donald Trump took office in 2017, Delaware lawmakers voted to preserve abortion rights under state law even if the Supreme Court decision was overturned.

Longhurst said there were some who questioned the necessity of taking such action four years ago.

“People were asking us, ‘Why do that now? Because you have Roe v. Wade.’ We took the precaution knowing that this was going to come forward,” she said. “We are fortunate to live in a state that values and defends reproductive freedom, but this freedom should not end at our state line when we know that these legislative attempts to interfere with reproductive rights can lead to disastrous consequences and often have the worst effects on marginalized communities.”

Earlier this year, abortion rights supporters like Sen. Kyle Evans Gay defeated a bill that would have required doctors to offer an ultrasound or fetal heartbeat monitor to patients seeking an abortion.

“Even in a state like Delaware, where we thankfully have codified Roe v. Wade, we see perennial attacks on the rights of women to access safe and legal abortions. Extreme laws like the Texas ban only emboldened players in other states, including our own, who will stop at no cost to limit access,” Gay said. “I can’t tell you that we can stop attacks on reproductive freedoms either here at home or in other states, but I can promise you that we will not stop fighting. I can promise you that we will not give an inch.”

This year lawmakers also passed legislation eliminating abortion from the criminal code, where it had been listed under manslaughter.

Next year, State Rep. Krista Griffiths said she’s planning to bring forward legislation that would shield information about certain medical procedures from being listed in the explanation of benefits provided by insurance companies. It’s similar to legislation passed in Massachusetts and Washington.

“That will suppress explanation of benefits forms for sensitive sexual services, including reproductive health,” Griffiths said. “This is one of those [bills] that I am championing with a number of my colleagues that will take away one barrier that might prevent someone from accessing services.”

Lawmakers will return to Dover for the start of the 2022 legislative session in January.

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