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Delaware lawmaker introduces 20-week abortion ban

Delaware Public Media

State Sen. Bryant Richardson (R-Seaford) is introducing legislation that would prohibit abortions once a fetus is 20 weeks old.

Under Richardson’s bill, doctors providing an abortion to a woman who is 20 weeks pregnant could be charged with a felony.

Gov. John Carney (D) signed legislation last summer that legalized abortions after 20 weeks in Delaware. It was previously illegal in the state. But the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision made that law unenforceable.

Richardson said his legislation gives women five months to decide whether to keep the baby or have an abortion.

“We’re talking about 20 weeks to make up your mind if you’re going to carry that child or not," he said. "It’s not saying a woman doesn’t have a right to choose.”

Richardson said abortion should be banned after the fetus reaches 20 weeks because it can start feeling pain.

“We can not turn our backs," he said. "We can’t turn away from the fact that there are young human adults that are being slaughtered.”

But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say the fetus doesn’t have the ability to feel pain until their brain is more developed.

The group says the brain doesn’t have the capacity to distinguish between touch and painful touching until around 27 weeks.

Planned Parenthood said most abortions happen before 21 weeks. But abortions can happen later in pregnancies because of birth defects or risks to the women’s health.

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