Delaware’s new abortion hotline provides free legal advice and reproductive health care information to residents of any state in the country, Attorney General Kathy Jennings said Wednesday.
The free helpline offers “know your rights” advice and referrals to abortion providers throughout Delaware. The line’s team of professional lawyers is managed by the Department of Justice. Questions and referrals are handled jointly by the DOJ and the ACLU of Delaware.
The helpline can be reached by calling (302) 992-8096 or toll-free at (877) 312-2366. Legal questions will be answered pro bono by partner law firms, and supportive referrals will be made to organizations such as Planned Parenthood and First State Abortion Fund.
Abortion remains legal in Delaware despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, which removed federal abortion protections nationwide. In 2017, the state updated its legal code to allow “termination of pregnancy before viability, to protect the life or health of the mother, or in the event of a serious fetal abnormality.”
“Abortion is legal in Delaware, but millions of women in our sister states face legal and medical risks due to their states’ draconian abortion laws,” said Jennings in a statement. “Our Abortion Legal Hotline is 100% free, completely confidential, and ready to help anyone, whether they are residents of our state, visitors, or providers.”
Since the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, state legislatures across the country have sought to impose heavy restrictions or outright bans on the proceedings. Since August 11, The New York Times reports that abortion is now banned in at least 10 states.
At least three more bans are expected in the coming weeks, while others remain pending. Abortion rights advocates have filed a lawsuit to block potential bans in places like Arizona, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming and North Dakota.
Although Delaware has retained its abortion rights, the state has not marketed itself as a “safe haven” for abortions the way New Jersey has in recent months.
New Jersey has expanded statewide reproductive health care and formed task forces through the state attorney general’s office that allow residents to refuse to cooperate with requests for extradition or interstate investigations.
Abortion is still legal in Pennsylvania, though upcoming gubernatorial elections in November have rights advocates worried.
Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro has said he will follow in Governor Tom Wolf’s footsteps and veto any abortion legislation that crosses his desk. However, Republican candidate Doug Mastriano introduced a six-week abortion ban in the state legislature and said he would seek to ban the procedure altogether — with no exceptions for rape or incest.
“Since the unprecedented and dangerous decision of the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn nearly five decades of case law, many people across the country have wondered what the legal status of abortion is,” said Mike Brickner, executive director of the ACLU of Delaware. “Today, we deliver a simple message to Delawarens and anyone seeking abortion care: Abortion is legal here and the legal community has your back.”
In June, the Delaware General Assembly passed additional protective legislation expanding abortion access for Delaware residents and visitors from other states, including laws protecting out-of-state abortion providers and job seekers.
Similar to recent New Jersey abortion laws, Delaware has limited extradition and protected the medical records of people who have abortions in the state.
Ruth Lytle-Barnaby, director of Planned Parenthood Delaware, said delaware online that the state has received a major influx of out-of-state abortion seekers since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. She said Planned Parenthood is working to add more staff so the state can provide as much care as possible to residents and visitors.
Delaware Online also reported that in 2019, Delaware had the second highest percentage of nonresidents receiving abortions among other East Coast states that report this data. It followed Vermont, which had the highest percentage.
Callers can contact the helpline by phone or send questions through the helpline website. To ensure anonymity, callers will be asked to leave a message with their question, a callback number and instructions on how they prefer to be contacted.