Recent scandals and substandard care at Delaware abortion clinics including Planned Parenthood clinics highlights the state’s lack of meaningful legal protections for women considering abortion and the urgent need for laws regulating the abortion industry.
- Delaware’s informed consent law requires that a woman be informed of the probable stage of her unborn child’s development, the abortion procedure to be used and its inherent risks, alternative abortion procedures, the probable effects of an abortion on future childbearing, and alternatives to abortion. The portion of the law requiring a 24-hour reflection period has been ruled unconstitutional.
- Delaware prohibits some coerced abortions, defining “coercion” as “restraining or dominating the choice of a minor female by force, threat of force, or deprivation of food and shelter.” The state emancipates a minor for social assistance purposes if her parents or guardians deny financial support because of her refusal to undergo an abortion.
- Despite a law prohibiting a physician from performing an abortion on an unemancipated minor under the age of 16 until 24 hours after notice has been given to one parent, the Delaware Attorney General has issued a “Statement of Policy” providing that state officials will not prosecute abortion providers who fail to comply with this requirement. The law also permits substitute notice of a grandparent or mental health professional.
- Only licensed physicians may perform abortions.
- Delaware has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure pertains to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions.
- Delaware follows the federal standard for Medicaid funding for abortions, only permitting the use of federal or state matching Medicaid funds for abortions necessary to preserve the life of the woman or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
- Delaware offers “Choose Life” license plates.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Delaware law does not provide for the prosecution of third parties who kill or injure an unborn child.
- Delaware allows a parent or other relative to bring a wrongful death (civil) lawsuit when a viable unborn child is killed through the negligent or criminal act of another.
- The state has created a specific affirmative duty of physicians to provide medical care and treatment to infants born alive at any stage of development.
- Delaware does not proscribe or limit human cloning, destructive embryo research, fetal experimentation, or human egg harvesting. It also does promote ethical forms of research or regulate assisted reproductive technologies.
End of Life Laws:
- Assisted suicide is a felony in Delaware.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
Participation in Abortion and Contraception:
- Delaware law provides that no person can be required to participate in any medical procedures that result in an abortion.
- Hospitals are not required to permit abortions within their facility.
- If health insurance plans provide coverage for prescription drugs, coverage must also be provided for contraception. A conscience exemption exists for religious employers.
Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:
- Delaware currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, or other forms of medical research, which violates a provider’s moral or religious belief.
What Happened in 2013:
- Delaware considered measures related to advance planning documents, pain management, and palliative care.
Recommendations for Delaware:
Women’s Protection Project Priorities:
- Women’s Health Defense Act (5-month abortion limitation)
- Women’s Right to Know Act with reflection period
- Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act
- Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act
- Parental Consent for Abortion Act
- Parental Involvement Enhancements Act
- Child Protection Act
- Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act
- Women’s Ultrasound Right to Know Act
- Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act
- Coercive Abuse Against Mothers Prevention Act
- Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
- Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Resource Centers
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn:
- Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act
- Protection for unborn children from nonfatal assaults
- Unborn Wrongful Death Act (for a pre-viable child)
- Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
- Human Cloning Prohibition Act
- Destructive Embryo Research Act
- Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:
- Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act