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Gov. Carney signs bill expanding access to abortion medications

Delaware Public Media
The Delaware General Assembly

Delaware was among the first states to codify the right to abortion into state law in 2017.

State Rep. Debra Heffernan (D-Brandywine Hundred) says she and other lawmakers worried the US Supreme Court could overturn the 50-year-old Roe vs. Wade decision - a concern that became real Tuesday when a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe leaked.

"We saw the writing on the wall," she said.

And Heffernan and others continue to pursue strengthening abortion rights locally.

Gov. John Carney (D) signed a bill sponsored by Heffernan this week expanding the types of medical professionals who can prescribe medications to end pregnancies. Advanced practice nurses and physician assistants can now prescribe them along with doctors.

"Advanced practice nurses and physician assistants can prescribe almost every other medication, including opiates," she said. "We felt this was extremely important to make sure we had access for women in underserved areas, underserved communities."

Heffernan says the goal is to increase access to abortion in areas of Delaware where physicians are in short supply.

Delaware is the 19th state to allow advanced practice nurses and physician assistants to prescribe medications to end pregnancies.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.