The Comprehensive Sex Hearing

In the last month, there have been quite a few legislative breaks and a number of bills that we’re not actually following. Yesterday’s hearing, however, was a jolt back into the craziness that is Legislative Session. 

The Senate Health and Social Services committee, chaired by Sen. Sarah McBride, started yesterday at 10am. Among the 5 bills heard, 3 of them were directly related to sex in some way. Here’s a quick recap of those bills: 

HB 275 was the first bill to be heard and one we’ve mentioned to you in the past. It passed it’s House hearing and Floor Session, making its way to be heard in the Senate committee yesterday for the first time. This bill seeks to add the terms, ‘pansexual’ and ‘asexual’ to the Delaware Code among the list of sexual orientations. 

With my comments in the House committee taken wildly out of context, this was an opportunity to both clarify the stated concern and make sure it was reiterated. The definition for sexual orientation has already been altered in DelCode over the years, the most recent change happening in 2022. The trend is to change as the acceptance and recognition of pop culture changes. If HB 275 is a continuation of that already present trend, the question must be asked, “where does it end?” This very question was asked not only during my comments, but also those presented by Senators Eric Buckson and Bryant Richardson. Despite the concerns, HB 275 has passed from the committee and is on the Senate Ready List. 

SB 301 introduced the requirement that all public universities, specifically those with student health centers, give access to two separate forms of abortion, “medication for the termination of pregnancy” and “emergency contraception.” Those are euphemistic terms for chemical abortion most often done by mifepristone and Plan B, respectively. 

While mifepristone has become almost synonymous with chemical abortion, it is important to mention the current Supreme Court case on the drug that challenges the FDA’s authority to ever have approved its use. The decision for this case could come anytime between now and the end of June. Any work to mandate its usage in the meantime is wildly irresponsibleSB 301, however, mentions another abortion requirement, which is met by the provision of Plan B. This seems a moot requirement, however, as the University of Delaware already goes so far as to offer Plan B pills in special campus vending machines. This makes the requirement to provide Plan B an unnecessary one. 

This means that the requirements of SB 301 are both irresponsible and unnecessary! 

In the defense for SB 301, supporters stated that abortion is healthcare and students deserve healthcare. Let’s be clear, abortion IS NOT healthcare. Even if we pretended that it was, there is no requirement of student health centers to provide every form of healthcare. They are a supplementary sort of access for on-campus students. It is typically the most basic and common forms of service that are offered at such centers. Requiring that abortion be included within that is a major statement, saying that it is basic and natural; it fails to recognize the gravity of the situation nor all the additional services that are necessary to add with chemical abortion in an effort to help safeguard the mother from its extreme harms. 

SB 300 was the bill of the day that we were following the most heavily, which also received the most amount of public comments as well. Unfortunately, as the last bill on the agenda, the public comment was limited down to 1 minute rather than the customary 2 minutes. The nature of the bill is to cause pregnancy care centers to put up a government mandated statement that they do not offer medical services.  This bill was one of 3 brought by Sen. Kyle Evans Gay, a current candidate for Governor. Her support for the bill was under the pretense that pregnancy care centers are misleading in the services that they provide; stating that they do not offer medical services and need to give a disclosure to say as much. 

It is important to point out that EVERY single pregnancy care center was represented at the hearing and gave strong testimonies to the fact that they not only provide free, factual, & confidential medical services, but said services are performed by certified medical personnel and authorized by a licensed physician. 

Senator Gay defended SB 300 by stating how they referenced a California case that went up to the Supreme Court to ensure that they were in line with accuracy. Despite this statement, SB 300 still follows directly in the footsteps with the major issue of the California bill that was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court found that the disclosure itself was unconstitutional as it target specific “speakers” directly. This form of discrimination places an undue burden on pregnancy care centers that is not evenly placed on others that meet the same prongs in the medical services that they do or do not provide. 

If all of the pregnancy care centers in Delaware, which happened to be present, meet the requirement for not needing a government mandated disclosure, then the presence of the bill is unnecessary. If they did not meet the requirement, then the bill is unconstitutional. So at its best, the bill is unnecessary and at its worst, it’s unconstitutional. Despite these issues, SB 300 passed the committee and is on its way to the Senate Floor. 

While the broad acceptance of sexuality and abortion was evident, there was just as clear a mistrust for efforts towards that which saves life and provides true support to women and babies. The pregnancy care centers were the only representation of a culture of life and redemption, but were the object of the attack for the day. Pray for them and reach out to the Senate; they need to know we’re standing with the pregnancy care centers. Protect Pregnancy Care Centers!

There isn’t much time left for the Session. Legislators are now on their last break, which lasts for 2 weeks. When they come back on June 11th, these bills, along with a number of others, will continue their trajectory. This is the last year of Delaware’s 2-year Session, so any bill that does not pass by the close on June 30th will die. Remember that bills die, issues don’t. Even if some of the bills we’re following don’t pass through this Session, our efforts to rebuild a culture of life, marriage, and religious freedom are not over.

Nandi Randolph

Policy Analyst

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