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HB 455 – Protecting Reproductive Rights in Delaware

Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, and Sen. Kyle Evans Gay are sponsoring new legislation, House Bill 455, that will improve the availability of safe and accessible reproductive healthcare services in Delaware and protet patients and providers from facing any legal action under the fascist regimes in other red states.

In Delaware, the privacy protections of Roe v. Wade are codified in state law, guaranteeing residents have access to legal abortion services even if Roe were to be undone at the federal level.

House Bill 455 would expand on earlier efforts to safeguard reproductive rights and includes protections for providers and out-of-state residents seeking or receiving reproductive health care services in Delaware. The bill would also expand the field of qualified medical professionals who can perform abortions  before viability to include physician assistants and certified nurse practitioners and nurse midwifes who are approved by the Board of Nursing.

Physician Assistants and advanced practice registered nurses are already authorized to prescribe medication for the termination of pregnancy under HB 320, a law the General Assembly passed earlier this year.

Nearly two dozen states have enacted laws to restrict or ban abortion under all or nearly all circumstances. More than half of these states have so-called “trigger laws” that would ban abortion automatically or by simple state action if Roe v. Wade is overturned. If and when the draft majority opinion of the U.S Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization becomes official, nearly 40 million women could lose access to abortion care in their home state, and would be forced to travel to receive legal abortion care.

HB 455 includes myriad legal protections for providers, organizations, and patients, including out-of-state residents receiving abortion care in Delaware.

  • Protects medical privacy. This bill would protect communications and records concerning reproductive health services, unless those records are needed to investigate claims of abuse against a provider.
  • Limits extradition. The legislation would protect individuals from extradition to other states for criminal charges related to terminating a pregnancy.
  • Shields individuals from civil actions. Under HB 455, those who seek, obtain, provide, or assist others in obtaining legal reproductive healthcare would be protected from civil actions in another state.
  • Provides a cause of action. HB 455 would provide a cause of action where someone sued in another state for allegedly receiving or providing abortion services that are legal in Delaware can recover related costs, damages, or attorney fees.
  • Protects professional licensees. The bill clarifies that medical professionals who perform, recommend, or provide legal reproductive health services in Delaware are not subject to other states’ abortion provider regulations.
  • Binds insurance companies. The legislation would also prohibit insurers from increasing premiums or taking adverse actions against providers and organizations for providing legal reproductive health care services. This protection would extend to medical professionals who prescribe abortion medication via telehealth.

HB 455 has been assigned to the House Health & Human Development Committee.

House Bill 455 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Minor-Brown, Heffernan, Longhurst, K.Johnson, Griffith, Bennett, Baumbach, Morrison, Kowalko, Mitchell, S.Moore
Gay, S.McBride, Sturgeon, Townsen, Hansen, Paradee, Sokola
Current Status: House Health & Human Development 6/2/22

“A woman’s right to choose extends beyond pregnancy and abortion – it’s also about choosing the best healthcare for them,” said Rep. Longhurst. “We have always made it a point in Delaware to break down barriers as well as fight to protect women. This measure is just another example of our commitment to ensure women’s rights are never taken for granted.”

“As a nurse, I’ve cared for and comforted women from all walks of life in need of help. Let’s be clear, women have a right to privacy when it comes to their own bodies and providers have a right to provide quality care to their patients without interference,” said Rep. Minor-Brown. “We have come a long way to get to a place where women have access to safe, quality reproductive healthcare and we refuse to move backward.” 

“Abortion is health care,” said Sen. Kyle Evans Gay. “It is our responsibility to ensure reproductive health services that are legal in Delaware can be performed without fear or threat to medical providers or patients seeking care.”

“This bill represents an important step forward in both expanding and securing access to reproductive health services,” Planned Parenthood of Delaware President and CEO Ruth Lytle-Barnaby said. “Individuals should not have to worry about punishment for receiving health care, and we should ensure that providers are protected as well. PPDE is grateful to legislators for their leadership in helping patients obtain vital care. All people deserve body autonomy.”

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