Every individual should have the right to determine for themselves if, when, and how they would like to become a parent, without government interference.

Reproductive freedom is a fundamental human right, and that includes access to abortion, one of the most common and safe medical procedures performed today. But since 2011, states have enacted more abortion restrictions than they did in the previous 10 years combined. Extremist politicians across the country have shut down clinics, enacted oppressive gestational limits, and even banned abortion outright. With the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions, it’s more important than ever for Delaware to ensure that we remain a safe haven for access to care – for Delawareans and for those who are forced to leave their state to receive the care they need.

ACLU of Delaware is committed to ensuring that Delaware’s laws and policies make reproductive freedom a reality for everyone – no matter where they live or how much is in their bank account. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, we strive to ensure that every patient in need is able to receive the full range of reproductive healthcare. We stand ready to remove barriers and expand abortion rights, block efforts to strip pregnant people of their bodily autonomy and ensure that individuals have agency in their own reproductive decisions.

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*Data from the Guttmacher Institute and the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

VICTORY! Abortion Access for All.

On June 25, the Delaware General Assembly passed House Substitute 2 for House Bill 110 (HS 2 for HB 110), legislation that ensures that people on Medicaid, private, and state insurance plans can access abortion care without financial burden. The bill, sponsored by House Majority Leader, Representative Melissa Minor-Brown, now heads to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. 

Once HS 2 for HB 110 is signed into law, Delaware will join seventeen other states, including neighboring states of Maryland and New Jersey, in allowing Medicaid funding for abortion care.  

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Legislative priorities

Expanding Access

The Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, which means that half of the states in our country are poised to ban or severely restrict abortion care. States with protected access to abortion are likely to experience an influx of patients who are traveling from other states to access abortion care. As a state that has protected abortion rights, Delaware may experience a surge in patient volume.

One way that Delaware can expand abortion access and prepare for an influx of patients is to grow the number of qualified medical professionals who are legally allowed to provide abortions. In 2022, Delaware expanded this list by allowing advanced practice clinicians (APCs) to provide both medication and procedural abortion care. 

Another area in need of expansion is youth rights. Currently, Delaware mandates parental notification if a patient is under 16 years of age. In many cases, parental notification can be detrimental to a patient’s safety or wellbeing. State law allows for young people to obtain a judicial bypass if telling their parents or guardians may be difficult, but the process is difficult to navigate and rarely used. Removing the parental notification requirement will ensure that all pregnant people, regardless of their age, have autonomy over their own bodies.

Funding Care

The cost of abortion places financial hurdles in front of patient care. Those who can afford to pay or have insurance that covers abortions can receive care, while those who can’t afford the cost either can’t receive it or are forced to find other avenues.

That’s why Medicaid funding of abortion care and doula services is one of our goals. Funding abortion care through Medicaid will help break down socioeconomic barriers, and funding doula services will ensure that patients are supported while making decisions about their reproductive health. Access to patient supporters and advocates such as doulas may also help Delaware address racial disparities in reproductive health.

Delaware should also require that all private insurance covers abortion and does not add out-of-pocket expenses. Even people with health insurance may not be able to shoulder the additional cost of a medical procedure, meaning they may have to shift critical funds for rent, food, childcare, transportation, or other medical expenses.

Addressing Racial Disparities

Systemic racism touches many aspects of our lives, and reproductive healthcare access is no exception. With Black maternal mortality rates reaching 2-3 times the rates of white maternal mortality, and with barriers to abortion access falling disproportionately in communities of color, Delaware must uncover and mitigate the root causes of these disparities.

Recent legislation in Delaware would address issues such as implicit bias in the healthcare industry, allow people who receive government assistance to continue to receive it in the months after childbirth and ban the use of shackles for incarcerated pregnant people. In addition, more progress is needed to expand the use of paid family leave in Delaware, infuse more funding into data-driven healthcare interventions for infant and maternal mortality, and expand access to substance abuse disorder treatment for pregnant people or those who have recently given birth.