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Delaware abortion ban fails to advance out of committee

Delaware Public Media

Legislation banning abortions once fetuses reach 20 weeks of development failed to advance out of a state Senate committee yesterday Wednesday.

Democratic State Sen. Bryan Townsend criticized members of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week when members failed to release his assault weapons ban for a floor vote.

But as chair of the health committee, he declined to support Republican Sen. Bryant Richardson’s abortion ban.

Townsend said they’re two very different situations.

“You can admire someone’s commitment to wanting to really to persist with the initiative that they’re trying to push," he said. "But also at some point, you know one shouldn’t be surprised if that it doesn’t keep advancing further and further in the legislative process.”

Linda Barnett with the Delaware chapter of the American Association of University Women said it opposes the bill. She said while the group is not pro-abortion, it is against government interference in a woman’s medical decisions.

“The only conclusion that we are left with is that the decision must be left with the woman," she said. "A woman must have the opportunity to consider her own position on this issue, what her beliefs are, her own personal circumstances.”

Richardson and many of the bill’s supporters say the legislation is needed to prevent the fetus from feeling pain during an abortion.

But opponents dispute that claim. The medical director of Planned Planned of Delaware says fetuses can’t feel pain until at least 24 weeks.

Other committee members - Democratic State Sens. Nicole Poore and Stephanie Hansen also declined to support the abortion legislation. Republican Sen. Ernie Lopez supported the bill. Republican Sen. Catherine Cloutier was absent.

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