On October 12, 2021 at 7 p.m., Seaford City Council will vote on a proposed ordinance that would restrict abortion access by requiring patients and clinics to follow medically unnecessary rules regarding disposal of fetal remains. The proposed ordinance is yet another version of the types of anti-abortion legislation that is proliferating in other states – this law was most recently introduced in Arizona, Kentucky, and Missouri and passed in Tennessee.
It is no coincidence that Seaford City Council is fast-tracking this legislation after Planned Parenthood of Delaware recently announced that it would be opening a new clinic in Seaford to serve the thousands of low-income people who need quality healthcare in the Delmarva region.
We need Delawareans to speak up and let Seaford City Council know this ordinance is unnecessary and unconstitutional.
- Send a public comment to city council members by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Attend the city council meeting today, October 12, at 7 p.m. (Note: Public comment is not permitted at the meeting)
Read the proposed ordinance here.
Read the ACLU of Delaware’s letter to Seaford City Council here.
How does this law threaten access to abortion?
1. It increases the cost and makes the process harder to obtain an abortion.
Under the proposed ordinance, either the patient or the clinic must pay for the extra costs to dispose of the fetal remains. Patients will be forced to sign additional paperwork intended to make the process more complex.
2. It is intended to cause shame and stigmatization for patients who receive an abortion.
There is nothing medically necessary about this bill. As the federal court in Texas, which recently struck down a similar law, said, “[the law] would have a negative effect on women’s health by causing grief and shame and possibly discouraging women from obtaining gynecological care, particularly abortions and miscarriage management, from a medical facility.”
3. It is unconstitutional and will likely be struck down in costly litigation.
If the city council adopts this ordinance, it will be inviting immense public scrutiny as well as costly and lengthy litigation that will waste taxpayer time and resources.
Texas has spent millions of dollars defending unconstitutional restrictions on abortion, including a requirement that fetal tissue be disposed of through cremation or interment. Ohio’s fetal remains law has been blocked by a state court while litigation proceeds.
If the Seaford City Council adopts this ordinance, it should be prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars--or more--on court costs and attorneys fees defending this ordinance.
4. It addresses a problem that does not exist.
Such laws are cruel and entirely unnecessary, searching for a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. They do nothing to respect or support a patient’s decision; instead, they impose intrusive mandates on abortion patients, regardless of their own wishes.
The state already regulates abortion facilities and crematoriums, and requires that all medical tissue be disposed of in a medically appropriate, safe, and sanitary manner. By passing this ordinance, the city council would be overstepping its authority by legislating in an area that state law controls and by instituting restrictions in conflict with state law. What’s more, this ordinance would unconstitutionally burden people’s access to abortion care.
Abortion clinics in this state comply with the requirements set out in Delaware law to dispose of fetal tissue safely and respectfully. What’s more, abortion providers treat their patients with care and compassion, and talk to each of them individually to answer their questions and address any concerns on a case-by-case basis.