Delaware State Sen. Bryant Richardson (R-Laurel) believes the two pro-life bills he is co-sponsoring this year in Dover have a better chance to pass the General Assembly than they did last year. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (HB52) and the Woman’s Ultrasound Right to Know Act (HB53) were introduced in the House of Representatives on Jan. 24.
The first act would prohibit abortions in Delaware at 20 weeks because at that point, according to the legislation, a fetus can feel pain, including that caused by the two most common forms of abortion. The second would compel a doctor to offer a patient the opportunity to see ultrasound images and hear fetal heart tones before terminating a pregnancy.
Two days before the legislation was introduced, Richardson attended a rally in the Senate chamber in Dover with members of Delaware Right to Life, the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Delaware and other members of the pro-life community. It was the 46th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
Although the state codified the right to abortion last year in the event the federal Roe v. Wade decision is overturned, Richardson said Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, speaking for the majority, had been unable to determine when life begins. That information is now available, he said.
“Science today has given us the answer,” he said. “It’s time that our laws catch up with science and recognize the personhood of the unborn. We have laws against child abuse. Let’s recognize the personhood of the unborn and extend that protection to them also.”
Father Leonard Klein, the diocesan director of the Office of Pro-Life Activities, said the bills “are important as a witness to the value of unborn children to a legislative majority that is committed to abortion.”
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is “an important way to repudiate the denial of the child’s humanity, and where such laws are passed they have the potential to limit abortions later in pregnancy,” Father Klein said.
Both bills were introduced in the General Assembly last year, but only the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act received a Senate committee hearing. Richardson said there was not enough time for debate, which is one reason why he believes the legislation has a chance to advance this time around.
“My hope is that new studies will help legislators better understand the need to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” he said.
The ultrasound bill, he said, gives women the choice to learn more about the development of the child they are carrying. He said similar legislation elsewhere “has been shown to save almost four out of five babies whose mothers previously had decided to have abortions.”
Father Klein said when women see the baby, they acknowledge and spare it.
“The right to know act endeavors to establish the ultrasound as a requirement before abortion in order to diminish the number of abortions. Women have a right to know the truth about the life in their wombs,” he said.
Richardson said this bill has the better chance at passing. Both chambers of the General Assembly are controlled by Democrats, as is the governor’s office. Father Klein admits it is unlikely that either will advance, but the bills bear witness to the truth of abortion’s cruelty and an injustice that needs to be resisted.
Both bills were introduced in the House of Representatives, with Rep. Richard Collins (R-Millsboro) as the primary sponsor. They were assigned to the house Health and Human Development Committee and are supposed to receive a hearing within 12 legislative days.