Del. Legislation Touted As Strengthening Abortion Rights Protections

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New legislation in the Delaware General Assembly would make ‘safe and accessible reproductive healthcare services’ more widely available, according to its sponsors.
The measure includes protections for providers and out-of-state residents who seek or receive reproductive health care services such as an abortion in The First State. Matters such as medical privacy, limitations on extradition to other states where abortion may be treated as a crime, protections from civil actions and protection of professional licenses are also addressed in House Bill 455.

“As a nurse, I’ve cared for and comforted women from all walks of life in need of help. Let’s be clear, women have a right to privacy when it comes to their own bodies and providers have a right to provide quality care to their patients without interference,” State Representative Melissa Minor-Brown, D-New Castle said. “We have come a long way to get to a place where women have access to safe, quality 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 Valeria Longhurst, D-Bear said. “We have always made it a point in Delaware to break down barriers as well as fight to protect women. This measure is just another example of our commitment to ensure women’s rights are never taken for granted.”

According to the bill’s 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.

“This bill represents an important step forward in both expanding and securing access to reproductive health services,” Planned Parenthood of Delaware President and CEO Ruth Lytle-Barnaby stated. “Individuals should not have to worry about punishment for receiving health care, and we should ensure that providers are protected as well. PPDE is grateful to legislators for their leadership in helping patients obtain vital care. All people deserve body autonomy.”

Delaware National Organization for Women, Women’s March Sussex and other organizations are sponsoring a “Bans off our Bodies” day of action at Legislative Hall this Wednesday between 9:30 a.m. and noon.

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