USA Politics First Look

Delaware becomes first state to protect abortion rights under Trump

Delaware Governor John Carney Jr. approved a bill Friday that upholds the ruling of Roe v. Wade, a case President Trump promised he would overturn during his presidency.

A woman shields herself from the rain with a sign as abortion rights protestors gather to counter protest a March for Life anti-abortion demonstration on the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, in front of the US Supreme Court building in Washington, Jan. 23, 2012.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/File
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  • Barbara Goldberg
    Reuters

Delaware's governor has signed into law a bill ensuring abortion remains legal in the state, the first such move in the United States since President Trump was elected on a pledge to overturn the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationally.

Abortion rights advocates on Friday cheered the move by Gov. John Carney Jr., who a day earlier approved the bill to codify at the state level provisions of Roe v. Wade, a 1973 Supreme Court decision protecting a woman's right to abortion.

"We applaud Governor Carney for sending a strong message that state policymakers will protect women's access to critical reproductive health services in the face of threats at the federal level," said Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Mr. Trump, a Republican whose election was backed by anti-abortion groups, has promised to appoint justices to the nation's top court who would overturn Roe v. Wade and let states decide whether to legalize abortion.

"This new law is important because it says to women that you are important, that you have the ability to decide when to have a child and the state supports you in making the decision that is best for you and your family," said Elizabeth Nash, an analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion policy.

Abortion opponents had lobbied against the legislation.

"People in the pro-life movement are very disappointed that this would happen in Delaware," said Rob Krebs, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington.

"Many feel this will make late-term abortions much more common in our state," he said.

Mr. Carney's signature of the law on Thursday came just days after the state House voted 22 to 16 on Tuesday to pass the bill, which was passed by the state Senate 11 to 7 on May 9. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats and Carney is a Democrat.

A bill to support abortion rights was approved by the Illinois legislature in May but the state's Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, has vowed to veto it.

In January, New York's Assembly adopted legislation similar to Delaware's, but it has stalled in the Senate.