Delaware Moves To Protect Abortion Rights Even If Roe V. Wade Is Reversed

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Update: The Delaware House of Representatives approved the abortion bill on Tuesday, sending it to the governor's desk for a signature.

This article was originally published on June 6, 2017.

Amid an onslaught of worrisome threats to reproductive rights in America, finally some good news: Delaware is poised to guarantee women's right to abortion.

The state's House of Representatives is set to vote on a protection that would ensure abortion remains legal in Delaware even if Roe v. Wade were overturned by the Supreme Court. The bill has already been approved by the Senate, and if passed in the House, will require a signature from Democratic Gov. John Carney.

Old Delaware laws prohibited abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and only allowed the procedure before 20 weeks in cases of rape or incest, danger to the mother's life, or if the child would be born with serious disabilities. Roe v. Wade made those restrictions unenforceable. (Roe v. Wade mandated that abortion must be legal up to the point when a fetus can live outside the womb, stating that viability is usually between 24 and 28 weeks.)

If passed, the proposed Delaware bill will make sure those outdated laws remain null.

Gov. Carney has not said whether or not he'll sign the abortion protection, but a spokesperson told Reuters, "The governor supports the rights and protections afforded women under Roe v. Wade."

President Trump promised during the 2016 election to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, and his first confirmed nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, has signaled in the past that he opposes abortion. Delaware would be the first state to formally protect abortion rights since Trump took office in January.

Illinois lawmakers approved a bill in April that would have kept abortion legal in the state if Roe v. Wade were suddenly reversed, but Gov. Bruce Rauner promised to veto it. According to the Guttmacher Institute, four states have provisions in place that would automatically ban abortion should the national abortion protection be lifted, and 11 states, including Delaware, still have abortion restrictions on the books that predate Roe.