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As Texas restricts abortion, Delaware's Democratic lawmakers decry the act

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media

Democratic lawmakers in Delaware reaffirm their commitment to abortion rights after the Texas abortion ban goes into effect.



Many of Delaware’s elected officials are outraged at what they see as a draconian ban on abortion in Texas, a new law that took effect on September 1st.


The law essentially bans all abortions, by restricting them beyond six weeks, a period before many people even find out they’re pregnant.


And Delaware lawmakers were particularly angry at the provision awarding $10,000 to citizens who successfully sue abortion providers under this law.


“The idea that this Texas bill is going to not only incentivize people to sue their neighbors but also give them money to do that really, really reminded me of the Jim Crow era,” said State Sen. Marie Pinkney (D-Bear/New Castle), a progressive newcomer to the General Assembly at a virtual rally held by Planned Parenthood of Delaware.


Pinkney says its unconscionable that Texas lawmakers would pay citizens to report abortion providers when Texas has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation.


And President Joe Biden agreed with Delaware lawmakers in a statement, saying the new law will significantly impair women’s access to health care, and he says he’s committed to upholding the constitutional right established by Roe V. Wade.


Planned Parenthood of Delaware president Ruth Lytle-Barnaby says Delaware should look at banning or restricting crisis pregnancy centers.


“We need to address that if someone’s giving you an ultrasound they should be trained to do so,” she said. “If someone’s giving you the results of a pregnancy test or telling you how far along, they need to be factually truthful about that. And so that is one big thing we could do to become more progressive in this state.”


There are at least seven such centers in Delaware. The mostly faith-based centers offer ultrasounds and consultations designed to discourage abortion.


Lytle-Barnaby believes these centers often twist the facts — or lie to patients to encourage them to carry the pregnancy to term.


State lawmakers at the rally agreed, and say they want to work with Planned Parenthood to draft a law.


The state codified Roe v. Wade into state law back in 2017, and has continued to pass further laws expanding access to abortion since then.


State Sen. Kyle Evans Gay (D-Talleyville) says while Delaware has strenghtened access to abortion, what’s happening in Texas only empowers the other side to be more bold in other states, including Delaware.


Gay points at three different attempts by Republican state lawmakers to pass laws in the state just this last session. All three would have required abortion providers to offer an ultrasounds and fetal heart tone service to patients seeking an abortion.


Gay says there’s no room to allow bills such as those ones to be considered, and their job gets harder with pressure from other states.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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