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Delaware prepares for influx of people seeking abortion care after overturn of Roe v. Wade


The Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade, eliminating federal constitutional protection of abortion rights.

Delaware is one of 16 states that have codified abortion rights. 23 states have laws limiting abortions, including 13 with "trigger bans" designed to almost immediately enact near-total bans now that Roe is overturned.

Planned Parenthood of Delaware President and CEO Ruth Lytle-Barnaby says that could bring people hundreds of miles to Delaware seeking access to abortions.

“We are anticipating that folks from other states will come to us for abortion care and we are looking at plans for how we might increase our services by doubling what we have right now," Lytle-Barnaby said. "That will probably take a good six months to get there though.”

Wilmington City Councilwoman and Black Mothers in Power founder Shané Darby worries abortion restrictions will drive up black infant and mother mortality rates.

“It’s scary, empowering, it’s everything in one to think about what it looks like for a black woman across the country," Darby said. "Because we might okay here for the most part in Delaware where we might not see those increases in the next few years because we are not going to get tighter abortion restrictions, but in other states we are going to see that. And I care about that too.”

Darby calls on state lawmakers to pass HB455, which would expand and protect abortion access for Delawareans and people coming from out of state, as well as medical providers helping them. It has passed the House and awaits a Senate vote.

Protests have already erupted across the country in response, and Senator Tom Carper expects the outcry to grow, reaching levels similar to protests over the Vietnam War.

“I remember what it was like in terms of the outcry against that war that I served in," Carper said. "That will pale by comparison to the outrage we’re going to see.”

For Carper, his mother was the first person to come to mind after seeing the decision.

“My mother was a deeply religious woman, and she is a huge believer of the golden rule, treat others the way you would want to be treated. If I could talk with my mom today and say, ‘how does the golden rule apply here, mom?’ She would probably say, ‘put yourself in the shoes of a woman who becomes pregnant by rape or incest. Someone who, if they carried a pregnancy to full-term, would die, and they’re told, ‘tough luck.’ That’s what this decision says. Tough luck.”

Carper said the Supreme Court has “lost its way,’ and describes it as a “dark day.”

ACLU of Delaware executive director Mike Brickner, says the organization is already gearing up to fight abortion bans at least 26 states expected to outright ban or severely restrict abortions.

He adds states like Pennsylvania with a conservative, anti-choice legislature are likely to become battlegrounds. Brickner notes the upcoming governor’s race there could empower those lawmakers, or keep them at bay.

“For many years, many pro-choice officials were able to essentially able to just say, ‘I agree with the court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade,’ and that was really where the conversation ended," Brickner said. "There weren’t a whole lot of follow up questions about, what are you going to do in Congress to move abortion care forward? Instead I think we were mostly playing a defensive game.”

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.