In October, Seaford City Council introduced an ordinance that would restrict abortion access by requiring patients and clinics to follow medically unnecessary rules regarding the disposal of fetal remains.
Despite public outcry against the ordinance and threats for legal challenges from ACLU-DE, Delaware NOW (National Organization for Women), and Attorney General (AG) Kathy Jennings, the city council voted to pass the ordinance in December 2021.
Shortly after it passed, the city council voted to stay enforcement of the ordinance, effectively keeping the law from becoming being enforced until the council decides to lift the stay — which it could do at any time, after providing proper notice.
If the ordinance were enforced, it would make the process of obtaining an abortion more difficult and costly. Such laws are intended to shame and stigmatize patients who seek abortion care. Seaford’s ordinance is even more extreme because it would also require those who experience miscarriages to comply with these medically unnecessary regulations.
And the consequences of this ordinance would be for naught. This municipal law is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, because the disposal of fetal remains is already regulated by State law.
From the start, we’ve said that this ordinance was both illegal and unconstitutional. AG Jennings agrees.
Earlier this week, the AG’s office filed a complaint against Seaford’s fetal remains ordinance. The complaint argues that Seaford’s ordinance is invalid, because State law already covers this issue and leaves no room for municipal policymaking under Delaware’s Home Rule Act.
Through this complaint, the AG is seeking a declaration that the ordinance is invalid, as well as a permanent injunction to prohibit the ordinance from ever going into effect.
We applaud the AG’s legal action against Seaford to permanently block the city’s illegal fetal remains ordinance, and stand ready to take action if this ordinance is enforced, or if any other city in Delaware tries to pass a law that would restrict access to abortion care.
Reproductive health services, including abortion care, are vital forms of healthcare. And we won’t back down from making sure access to reproductive healthcare is available to all.
Read the AG’s press release online here: https://news.delaware.gov/2022/01/11/ag-jennings-announces-lawsuit-against-seaford/
We partnered with Delaware NOW (National Organization for Women) to release a joint statement on the filing. Read our full statement here: https://www.aclu-de.org/en/press-releases/our-statement-ag-lawsuit-against-seaford-fetal-remains-ordinance