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Abortion bill clears state Senate

Delaware Public Media

Senate Democrats signed off on a bill to legalize abortion in Delaware Tuesday. The measure updates state code to match guidelines from the U.S Supreme Court’s controversial 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

The bill allows doctors to determine when a fetus could survive outside its mother’s womb.

If it can, the doctor could only perform an abortion if the mother’s health is in danger or the fetus has severe health problems.

Current Delaware code outlaws abortions past 20 weeks, but it hasn’t been enforced since Roe v. Wade.

Sen. Bryant Richardson (R-Laurel), a self-described pro-life advocate for years, tried to amend the bill several times to restrict abortions to around 20 weeks.  

“It would be unfair to restrict a woman’s choice by prohibiting abortions, but any civilized society restricts an individual’s freedom to choose whenever that choice would harm an innocent person,” Richardson said.

But the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-Newark),  says that a doctor, not a lawmaker, should make that call.

“The point of crafting viability in the way that we have in the bill and not in the amendment is to try to provide for that deliberation and diagnosis and consultation and decision between the woman and her doctor,” Townsend said.

Other failed amendments from Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson (R-Milford) and Sen. Dave Lawson (R-Marydel) would’ve required minors to get parental consent for an abortion or get written consent from the mother of the child after a doctor’s consultation.

Debate lasted for more than two hours with advocates on both sides of the issue packing the gallery above the chamber floor.

The bill now heads to the House.