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Seaford votes to halt enforcement of fetal remains ordinance

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media
Earlier this month, residents packed city council chambers as the city considered the fetal remains ordinance.

The Seaford City Council has voted to put an ordinance that imposes stricter requirements on the disposal of fetal remains on hold.

The delay was supported by four council members. One member, Dan Henderson, was not present at Thursday night's special meeting.

Earlier this month, the council passed the ordinance, which requires burial or cremation of fetal remains after an abortion. It came on the heels of Planned Parenthood opening a clinic in the city.

The vote to “stay” enforcement of the ordinance came after Attorney General Kathy Jennings and others like the ACLU threatened to file lawsuits against the city.

In supporting the delay in enforcement, council members said it would allow time for the issue to be addressed with legislation at the state level.

It was a move supported by those who voted for and against the ordinance.

Council member James King said the ordinance is unconstitutional and “a complete waste of time, energy and resources,” noting that the state already has a law governing the disposal of fetal remains.

“That being said, I’m not in the favor of this ordinance, but I am in favor of this to allow more time for the General Assembly to make their decision,” King said of the stay.

Council member Matthew MacCoy, who supported the ordinance, said the issue should be determined “by representation, not in a courtroom by litigation,” he said adding that the city had attempted to work with the state throughout the process.

House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst recently told Delaware Public Media she’s working on a bill that would prevent municipalities from passing similar regulations she said were designed shame women and discourage them from seeking an abortion.

Rebecca Baer comes Delaware Public Media from The Florida Channel in Tallahassee where she covered state government and produced documentary features for the series, Florida Crossroads.