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DOJ released Abortion Legal Helpline for Delawareans, out-of-state people, and providers

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Rachel Sawicki
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Delaware Public Media
Left to right: Attorney General Kathy Jennings, Planned Parenthood Public Affairs Manager Matt Biddle, Delaware NOW President Melissa Froemming, Planned Parenthood Executive Director Ruth Lytle-Barnaby, ACLU Executive Director Mike Brickner, and Black Mothers in Power and Wilmington Councilwoman Shané Darby.

The Delaware Department of Justice is stepping up for Delawareans and neighbors seeking abortion access and legal advice.

The helpline is a product of a partnership between the DOJ, the ACLU of Delaware, Planned Parenthood, the First State Abortion Fund, and nearly a dozen law firms. It’s free, anonymous, and active now.

And ACLU Executive Director Mike Brickner says it is not just for patients.

“If you are a provider who is unsure about what the rules are, the legal community here in Delaware has your back and we will answer your questions," Bricker said. "This is so important because again, oftentimes just not knowing the answer to a question not having access to those resources can keep that individual from accessing abortion care.”

15 states have abortion bans now, nine of which are total bans. Planned Parenthood CEO Ruth Lytle-Barnaby says women in those areas may end up in cycles of poverty, especially if they are part of a marginalized racial or ethnic group.

“Banning abortion doesn't stop abortions," Lytle-Barnaby said. "It just forces people to turn to illegal and sometimes unsafe methods and increases the inequity between the haves and the have nots, with a particularly devastating impact on people of color. The American people don't want to have nor do they deserve to have fewer rights than the generation before them.”

Attorney General Kathy Jennings says the Department of Justice, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and many others have been flooded with calls of concern about access to abortion in Delaware since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

“Think of that 10 year old little girl and what she endured. She was able to get an abortion. She was raped. And she had people out there denying the truth. This is an ability to get at the truth and to inform people and to calm their fears and to provide that access so desperately.”

Jennings is referencing a 10-year-old girl in Ohio who was denied an abortion in her home state, and had to travel to Indiana for care. Delaware law protects people coming for abortions from being extradited to, or criminally prosecuted in their home state, but Jennings predicts Delaware will become involved in litigation at some point.

Jennings adds she has never seen a Supreme Court decision so instantly destabilizing as removing a 50-year constitutional right.

The hotline is open for individuals and providers seeking legal advice on abortions – like where and how they are available and allowed.

The number is (302) 992-8096 or toll-free at (877) 312-2366, or at de.gov/abortionhelpline for those who prefer not to call. Callers will be asked to leave a message with their question, a callback number, and any instructions on when or how they prefer to be contacted.

Planned Parenthood officials are working to meet demand in Delaware, and looking to hire more medical assistants and registered nurses.

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