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Bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks fails in committee

Charlie Megginson Government, Headlines

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A bill to ban abortions that occur 20 or more weeks after fertilization failed in a Delaware Senate committee Tuesday. 

Senate Bill 235, dubbed the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” asserts that fetuses are capable of experiencing pain around 20 weeks after fertilization. 

Advancements in medical science and technology have moved the point of viability forward necessitating additional protections for unborn children, said Sen. Bryant Richardson, R-Seaford, the bill’s sponsor. 

“Whenever a woman goes in for an abortion, two patients go in and only one comes out,” Richardson told the Senate Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee. “The child becomes a victim.”

Opponents, including representatives from Planned Parenthood of Delaware and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said the bill attempts to legislate what should be a sensitive medical decision between women and their doctors. 

Abortions after 20 weeks are extremely rare, they said, and most often happen when either the child’s or mother’s life is in danger. 

“Over 99% of abortions occur before 21 weeks,” said Ruth Lytle-Barnaby, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Delaware. “These are people that have picked out names — these are people that have painted the rooms — they have started to have baby showers.”

Richardson said that’s no excuse to “give a death sentence to an unborn child,” especially given that “a lot of times, as far as the unborn child, there are misdiagnoses.”  

“I think there’s been a lot of examples of the child being born and the doctors have been wrong in their diagnosis,” Richardson said. “So I think, you know, we should err on the side of the unborn child.”

Having failed to be released from the committee, the bill will not advance to the Senate floor for a vote.

House Democrats last week filed their own bill aimed at expanding abortion protections in Delaware. That bill has been assigned to the House Health & Human Development Committee where it will be considered Wednesday.

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