Seaford passes controversial abortion ordinance
SEAFORD, Del. – A new ordinance in Seaford is being called unconstitutional by Delaware’s Attorney General and ACLU of Delaware. The ordinance passed in a 3 to 2 vote Tuesday night.
Under the law, fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages must be cremated or buried. Individuals who have an abortion or miscarriage in Seaford can choose whether the remains are cremated or buried. Those who make that choice must pay for the burial or cremation. But, if individuals pass that decision onto the facility that performed the abortion, the facility itself must pay for the cremation or burial.
The move comes just four days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Texas law banning abortion at six weeks of pregnancy.
“This is in line with national trends that we’ve seen across the country where municipalities or states try to enact regulations that just make the process of getting an abortion harder,” said Executive Director of the ACLU of Delaware Mike Brickner.
In a letter submitted to Seaford City Council, Attorney General Kathleen Jennings urged council members to reconsider the ordinance. She wrote, “If it became the law of the City of Seaford, it would be entirely preempted by State law, incapable of legal enforcement against any person or entity, and fatally subject to injunction because it is unconstitutional.”
Brickner says the ordinance could prevent some Delawareans from considering getting an abortion all together. “For many low income people, adding on the cost to an abortion may be a big disincentive. But, the other thing is if you are an individual who is thinking about getting an abortion, this is whole other level of red tape,” he said.
Plus, the potential financial burden on facilities could spell out trouble for other services they provide, according to Brickner. “When they have to take on these administrative burdens and additional costs, those costs could be passed on to people seeking abortion care. It could also be passed on across the board to other clients. That’s somebody seeking heart health counseling or contraception counseling,” he said.
Seaford Mayor David Genshaw says he stands by the passage of the ordinance. In a statement to 47 ABC, he wrote, “The local people spoke. The elected heard them and responded with what they could do in the form of this ordinance that reflects the values of our community. This is how local government should work.” The mayor continued, “The City has been blessed to have a local businessman agree to cover any legal cost going forward so the taxpayers are protected and locally.”
The ACLU of Delaware says suing the City of Seaford over the new ordinance is on the table. They have 30 days after the passage of the ordinance to file suit.
“We believe that this is flagrantly unconstitutional and a violation of Delaware state law. When we believe a fundamental right is at risk, we will use every tool in the toolbox to fight against that encroachment of people’s rights,” said Brickner.