Delaware House set for final vote on abortion rights

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 06, 2017 8:29 AM

By Barbara Goldberg

(Reuters) - The Delaware House of Representatives was poised to vote on Tuesday on a Senate-approved bill that would guarantee abortion access after U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to upend the ruling that legalizes the procedure nationally.

Delaware's legislation aims to codify at the state level the provisions of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that protects a woman's right to abortion.

Trump, a Republican whose election was backed by anti-abortion groups, has promised to appoint justices to the nation's top court who would overturn Roe v. Wade and let states decide whether to legalize abortion.

Both chambers of the Delaware legislature are controlled by Democrats, and Governor John Carney Jr. also is a Democrat.

Passage of the bill through the House could position Delaware to become the first state to guarantee access to abortion since Trump was elected president.

A bill to support abortion rights was approved by the Illinois legislature in May but the state's Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, has vowed to veto it. In January, New York's Assembly adopted legislation similar to Delaware's, but it has stalled in the Senate.

Carney has been following debate on the bill and has not yet said if he will sign it into law, said his spokeswoman Jessica Borcky.

"But the governor supports the rights and protections afforded women under Roe v. Wade," Borcky said.

If the bill clears the House and is sent to the governor, he must sign or veto it within 10 days, or the measure automatically becomes law.

Abortion opponents lobbied against the legislation, concerned it could turn Delaware into "a late-term abortion haven," said Delaware Right to Life spokeswoman Moira Sheridan. If it passes, the group will take its fight to the governor's office, she said.

"We will exert the same pressure upon Governor Carney, a Catholic, to uphold the sanctity of life for those innocent unborn children whose lives depend upon his vetoing this radical bill," Sheridan said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)