City council members in Seaford, Delaware, have passed an ordinance requiring that the remains of all aborted babies be treated as human remains, with either burial or cremation. The vote comes less than two months after council members tabled its initial vote of the ordinance for fear of litigation.
According to ABC 47, the ordinance states that the remains of all children who are aborted or miscarried must be disposed of humanely. The parent can choose which method they prefer for their child, but if they do so, they must pay for the burial or cremation. Alternatively, the parent may waive making that decision, in which case the abortion facility must then ensure that the aborted child’s remains are humanely treated while shouldering the cost.
Delaware Online reports that there was a contentious debate on both sides of the issue prior to the council’s vote. While many abortion advocates claim that the ordinance restricts abortion rights, Nicole Theis, president of Delaware Family Policy Council disagreed. “These are human remains that deserve the dignity to be handled properly, and we’re just giving people the option to do that,” she said.
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Seaford’s Mayor, David Genshaw, agreed. “This ordinance is really what the public is now calling it the dignity ordinance it really just comes down to your belief whether a fetus should be handled in a way that gives dignity,” he said.
City council members were originally planning to vote on the ordinance in October when a litigation threat from the ACLU gave them pause. Genshaw said that they made some adjustments to how the ordinance was written in order to mitigate any legal action. “We made some tweaks to align with what’s been passed in other states to go with what’s been going on nationally, but also there were some issues with miscarriages and abortions, so we aligned with that but we never have felt that it was against state law,” he said according to WRDE.
At that time, the city also chose to wait for the state Attorney General Kathleen Jennings to look into whether or not the ordinance was constitutional. Delaware Online reports that while the city should have expected to receive feedback from the Attorney General’s office in about 30 days, they didn’t receive it until mere hours before the council’s December vote.
In her response, Jennings was clear on where she stands. “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,” she wrote.
Both Jennings and the ACLU have signaled that they will consider suing the city. “This has been an alarming couple of years for the American majority who believe that abortion should be safe and legal, and who see the nationwide wave of medieval – and frankly hateful – anti-choice policies for exactly what they are,” tweeted Jennings. “To those people, let me say this: Delaware will not move backwards on my watch. This ordinance is not who we are. And it will not withstand our legal challenge.”
The Seaford ordinance does not restrict abortion in any way, but simply regulates the means of handling aborted human remains.
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