Delaware Public Media

Delaware House passes abortion bill, Gov. Carney to sign

Jun 6, 2017

House lawmakers signed off on a bill rewriting Delaware’s abortion law that technically left the practice illegal – even after the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case.

The bill passed 22-16, after more than two hours of debate and a long break for Republicans to redraft multiple amendments.

State senators greenlit the bill last month, which will give doctors discretion to determine whether a fetus could survive outside the womb without extraordinary medical care. If it can't, they are able to perform an abortion. 

They may also go ahead with a procedure if the mother's life is in danger, even if the fetus is viable.

No one who voted for the bill aside from its sponsor spoke in favor of it.

Republican Rep. Tim Dukes, a pastor from Laurel, was among those who tried to restrict to abortions to within 20 weeks, unless it would endanger the life of the mother.

Dukes says it now essentially legalizes late-term abortions.

“This gives abortionists the ability to choose about viability throughout the nine months of pregnancy,” he said.

Other amendments closely mirrored those defeated during the Senate debate. One included requiring expecting mothers to undergo counseling from doctors and getting their written consent for the procedure.

Another would’ve redefined viability under the law to forbid doctors from performing an abortion if the fetus could survive with the help of respirators or other medical devices.

All were defeated or ruled unconstitutional by House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach).

Despite much of the debate focusing questioning at what point a fetus becomes viable, Rep. Joe Miro (R-Pike Creek Valley) says there’s no splitting hairs when it comes to abortion.

“The fact of the matter is that this bill represents a license to murder. Period. No questions about it,” Miro said.

About 150 anti-abortion advocates rallied at Legislative Hall Tuesday, sporting neon green shirts.

They packed the second floor gallery and outnumbered those who supported the measure.

Gov. John Carney (D) will sign the bill, according to a spokesman, Jonathan Starkey.

“He hopes the General Assembly can now focus its attention on our nearly $400 million budget shortfall…and discuss a long-term revenue plan that will help lay the foundation for a balanced budget solution,” Starkey said in a statement.