By State Senator Bryant L. Richardson
This past Tuesday was one of the darkest days in Delaware politics, as Senate Bill 5 passed in the House of Representatives with 22 votes. With 41 state representatives, only 21 votes were needed to pass the bill by a majority. The vote was along party lines. There are 25 Democrats and 16 Republicans in the House.
Three Democrats went not voting or voted no. Two Republican representatives were absent for the vote, including Deborah Hudson, one of the sponsors of the bill. The fact that Hudson’s name was on the bill is one of my biggest concerns, since she is minority whip, in other words, part of the House Republican leadership.
SB 5 was fast-tracked through the Senate by state Senator Brian Townsend as the prime sponsor. In the Senate the bill received 11 yes votes, the minimum number needed to pass. Again, votes were mostly along party lines with one Democrat, Senator Bob Marshall, going not voting and and one Republican, Senator Catherine Cloutier, voting yes.
Without Cloutier’s vote, the bill could not have passed in the Senate, unless the Democrat leadership was able to put enough pressure on Marshall to persuade him to join his party in passing the bill.
The debate in the House on Tuesday lasted for a few hours. Amendments were introduced by representatives Tim Dukes and Rich Collins. Representative Ruth Briggs King also joined in the fight to defeat the bill. All did a very respectable effort, but none of the amendments passed and the logic presented by the witnesses and the representatives did not change one vote.
Before the House session, at noon on Tuesday Melissa Ohden, a late-term abortion survivor, was the keynote speaker at a rally in protest of Senate Bill 5, on the east steps of Legislative Hall. A few hundred people, many wearing light green shirts to signify their stand against the abortion bill, gathered for the rally. Ohden said that a toxic saline solution was used in the attempt to end her life. She said for five days she was inside her mother’s uterus soaking in what was supposed to be a fatal dose of saline, but somehow she survived. If it had not been for the actions of a nurse who rushed her to a hospital after noticing she was alive, she would have been left to die.
Ohden said there are 212 survivors of abortion in the United States. She said her grandmother was the one who forced her mother (then a freshman in college) to go through with the abortion attempt. Immediately after the bill passed in the House, I requested that Representative Dukes and I be granted an audience with the governor to ask him to veto the bill, because it is too extreme. U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including Roe V. Wade, give states the right to regulate abortions to protect the unborn child the further along the pregnancy proceeds. I am writing this column on Wednesday morning very close to our deadline for sending the newspapers to the printer. So far no word from the governor’s office.
I think the actions over SB 5 demonstrate the political influence Planned Parenthood has over the Democrat Party. Planned Parenthood is not only the nation’s most prolific abortion provider, but has evolved into one of the strongest political forces in the United States and other nations. But there is another force in Delaware, and that is the pro-life movement. Pro-life activists will be focusing their attention on the 2018 races for the House and Senate. Those who voted for SB 5 will be the targets of their campaigns.
A survey taken in the past few days shows that the majority of Delawareans, even those who identify as pro-choice, are not in favor of late-term abortions. Those who voted for the bill should be worried. My opposition to SB 5 will make me a target for Planned Parenthood in the 2018 election. My concern is not over what they may attempt, but only that I stay faithful to the principles that led me to run for office in the first place. The main principle in which I believe is that all life is precious and has potential and should be protected.
If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? Proverbs 24:11, 12 King James version