Delaware legislature defies Trump, votes to ensure abortion rights

June 7, 2017 - 11:27 AM
An abortion rights rally in Chicago, Illinois. (Reuters)

The Delaware legislature on Tuesday approved a bill that would guarantee abortion access, taking the stance after President Donald Trump pledged to upend the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows the procedure nationally.

Delaware’s legislation aims to codify at the state level the provisions of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that protects a woman’s right to abortion.

Trump, a Republican whose election was backed by anti-abortion groups, has promised to appoint justices to the nation’s top court who would overturn Roe v. Wade and let states decide whether to legalize abortion.

The Delaware state House, after more than five hours of debate and discussion, voted 22 to 16 on Tuesday to approve the measure, according to the website for the state legislature. The measure had already passed in the state Senate.

Both chambers of the Delaware legislature are controlled by Democrats, and Governor John Carney Jr. also is a Democrat.

Passage of the bill through the House positions Delaware to potentially become the first state to guarantee access to abortion since Trump was elected president.

Carney, who has been following debate on the bill, has not yet said if he will sign it into law, his spokeswoman Jessica Borcky said.

“But the governor supports the rights and protections afforded women under Roe v. Wade,” Borcky said.

Abortion opponents lobbied against the legislation, concerned it could turn Delaware into “a late-term abortion haven,” said Delaware Right to Life spokeswoman Moira Sheridan. Her group plans to take its fight to the governor’s office.

“We will exert the same pressure upon Governor Carney, a Catholic, to uphold the sanctity of life for those innocent unborn children whose lives depend upon his vetoing this radical bill,” Sheridan said.

A bill to support abortion rights was approved by the Illinois legislature in May but the state’s Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, has vowed to veto it. In January, New York’s Assembly adopted legislation similar to Delaware’s, but it has stalled in the Senate.