Delaware Senate approves abortion access and information bills

By Logan B. Anderson
Posted 6/14/24

The Delaware Senate passed two bills Thursday aimed at promoting safe access to abortion care and information.

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Delaware Senate approves abortion access and information bills


DOVER — The Delaware Senate passed two bills Thursday aimed at promoting safe access to abortion care and information.

Both measures — Senate Bill 300 and Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 301 — were offered by Sen. Kyle Evans Gay, D-Talleyville, and passed along party lines, with the chamber’s six Republicans voting no.

On the same day the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously voted to maintain access to a widely used abortion pill, mifepristone — therefore rejecting a bid from antiabortion organizations and doctors to undo the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug — state senators approved SS 1 for SB 301, which would create access to abortion medications for state university students.

“(This act) creates a pathway to support our college students at the University of Delaware and Delaware State University, while also taking into consideration the conversations that I have had with stakeholders over the past few weeks,” Sen. Gay said from the Senate floor Thursday. “I bring this forward because I am following the data.”

Two-thirds of abortion procedures in the United States are undertaken with medication, and 20% of those who use the safe and legal option are in their 20s, according to the senator.

“While access is an ongoing part of the conversation to reproductive justice, we oftentimes overlook the college students who have come to Delaware or (are) from Delaware and are away from home at university, and we often forget that they have additional barriers in their way when seeking health care and abortion services,” she added.

The bill requires public universities to provide access to medication for the termination of pregnancy, as well as emergency contraception, either on-site or via a school-contracted external agency.

“What does this bill not do? The bill doesn’t affect the scope of practice for our providers or ask universities to offer medication on campus should they feel that they aren’t currently capable of that,” Sen. Gay said. “It doesn’t ask our universities to pay for the procedures; it doesn’t expand or decrease the legality of abortion in our state.

“It is simply a bill to encourage and consider the needs of students on campus and recognize that they, too, deserve access to health care. And that is our responsibility to fill any gaps for them that exist.”

If enacted, the measure would take effect July 1, 2025.

Also Thursday, the Senate approved a bill that would require pregnancy crisis centers to declare, via signage, that they are not licensed medical facilities.

Such centers are defined as pro-life agencies striving to prevent abortions via counseling and other means.

“(SB 300) is a bill that seeks to promote transparency in medical care,” Sen. Gay said. “We know from studies that have been done that 71% of these types of crisis pregnancy centers do deceptive means to spread debunked information, and 38% do not clearly state on their homepage, their webpage, that they don’t provide abortion care.”

If signed into law, centers that do not provide licensed medical services would have to post signs that read, “This facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the state of Delaware and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services.”
Senate Republicans voted against this measure because they believe that forcing speech on these centers is a violation of the First Amendment.

“I think this is going to be challenged in court,” said Sen. Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, while Sen. Gay, an attorney, disagreed.

Both measures now await consideration in the House of Representatives. This year’s legislative session ends June 30.

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