Commmentary: Delaware stands as beacon in fight for abortion rights

By Ruth Lytle-Barnaby and Elyse Reznick
Posted 5/14/22

Monday, May 3, should have been a shock not just for those of us who work to ensure the health and reproductive freedom of American people but to all Americans who value the concept of living in a …

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Commmentary: Delaware stands as beacon in fight for abortion rights

Posted

Monday, May 3, should have been a shock not just for those of us who work to ensure the health and reproductive freedom of American people but to all Americans who value the concept of living in a free society.

That was when Politico published a leaked majority Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, suggesting that there is no constitutional right to abortion. As such, the draft decision indicated the court would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade case legalizing abortion in the United States. Such a decision would return to the individual states the decision on whether to keep abortion legal.

First, let us be very clear: The leaked document is a draft and does not affect current federal or state law. If you have an appointment for an abortion procedure, you should keep it. If you’re in need of services from an abortion provider, they remain available to you.

Even if this decision becomes official when the court’s ruling is announced, this will not affect access to abortion services in Delaware, as state lawmakers ensured the legal right to an abortion in 2017. As a result, pregnant people in the First State — including both residents and visitors — are guaranteed the ability to decide on their own how they choose to manage a pregnancy and their overall reproductive health.

Meanwhile, some states where the legislatures have historically opposed abortion have established “trigger laws” designed to ban abortion in their respective states should the Supreme Court overturn Roe. Others, like Mississippi in Dobbs, have recently passed laws limiting abortions to as few as six weeks after conception. If this leaked decision becomes Supreme Court precedent, these states will have achieved their goal and will likely take the opportunity to ban abortions altogether.

However, we know an abortion ban only succeeds in preventing legal abortions. Those with power, money and influence will still have access to services denied their economically disadvantaged neighbors, who will seek out riskier procedures performed under dangerous conditions. We also know abortion bans prevent doctors from offering crucial, lifesaving care in emergency situations.

For an individual to have control over their reproductive health means they have more control over their future — their quality of life and that of any children they do have, as well as how they choose to contribute to society. While Delaware won’t be in danger of an abortion ban, plenty of other states will. For being small in size, we maintain an outsized influence, both in leading the fight for abortion rights nationally and as a safe haven for those from other states who can’t access abortion services at home.

We at Planned Parenthood of Delaware view access to health care for all as our guiding principle, and we view safe and reliable abortion services as crucial to health of women throughout the state and the nation. We support the freedom of all Americans, no matter where they live, to make their own decisions about how to manage their health. And we will work tirelessly to ensure that these freedoms are not abridged.

Ruth Lytle-Barnaby is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Delaware. Elyse Reznick is the chair of PPDE’s board.