Del. Abortion Rights Protections Strengthened Under House-Passed Bill, Say Sponsors
The House of Representatives has approved a bill that its sponsor said would improve availability of safe and accessible reproductive healthcare services, while protecting patients and providers from facing legal action under abortion laws in other states.
House Bill 455 passed with 24 yes votes, 13 no Tuesday. Four representatives were absent.
“As a nurse, I have friends who have decided to have children – and friends who decided not to have children,” Representative Melissa Minor-Brown, D-New Castle said. “I believe we should have the option to do what we want with our bodies and have the privacy to make our own medical decisions while always receiving quality care from providers. We have come a long way to get to a place where women have access to safe, reproductive healthcare, and we refuse to move backward.”
“A woman’s right to choose extends beyond pregnancy and abortion – it’s also about choosing the best healthcare for them,” House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear said. “We have always made it a point in Delaware to break down barriers as well as fight to protect women. Passing this legislation is just one more example of our commitment to ensuring women’s rights are never taken for granted.”
According to the sponsors, HB 455 “would expand the field of qualified medical professionals who can perform abortions before viability to include physician assistants and certified nurse practitioners and nurse midwifes who are approved by the Board of Nursing.”
“We are potentially just days away from the Supreme Court overturning Roe,” State Senator Kyle Evans Gay, D-Brandywine Hundred stated. “It is our responsibility to do everything we can to keep abortion services legal and accessible.”
According to the sponsors:
HB 455 includes myriad legal protections for providers, organizations, and patients, including out-of-state residents receiving abortion care in Delaware:
- Protects medical privacy. HB 455 would protect communications and records concerning reproductive health services, unless those records are needed to investigate claims of abuse against a provider.
- Limits extradition. The legislation would protect individuals from extradition to other states for criminal charges related to terminating a pregnancy.
- Shields individuals from civil actions. Under HB 455, those who seek, obtain, provide, or assist others in obtaining legal reproductive healthcare would be protected from civil actions in another state.
- Provides a cause of action. HB 455 would provide a cause of action where someone sued in another state for allegedly receiving or providing abortion services that are legal in Delaware can recover related costs, damages, or attorney fees.
- Protects professional licensees. The bill clarifies that medical professionals who perform, recommend, or provide legal reproductive health services in Delaware are not subject to other states’ abortion provider regulations.
- Binds insurance companies. The legislation would also prohibit insurers from increasing premiums or taking adverse actions against providers and organizations for providing legal reproductive health care services. This protection would extend to medical professionals who prescribe abortion medication via telehealth.