Seaford fetal remains law overturned in court

Seaford fetal remains law overturned in court
Seaford City Council holds a special meeting on the fetal remains ordinance in late December.

The city of Seaford's ordinance requiring burial or cremation for fetal remains from abortion or, in some cases miscarriage, has been overturned by a state court, the Delaware Department of Justice announced on Monday.

The city passed the ordinance last year in response to the opening of a Planned Parenthood facility that offered abortions. It put that ordinance on hold to avoid a lawsuit after strong pushback from the state, but the attorney general's office sued anyway.

The state argued that Seaford did not have the authority to enact the ordinance, since it was preempted by state law. Judge J. Travis Laster of the Delaware Court of Chancery sided with the state, ruling that Seaford is a "junior sovereign" that can't enact law that conflicts directly with state law.

An anonymous donor had offered to pay the city's legal costs if the ordinance were challenged, a move criticized by opponents of the ordinance, who called it dark money. It appears either the city or the donor will have to pay, as the court awarded costs to the state, according to the Department of Justice.

The decision comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Friday overturning Roe v. Wade and leaving abortion law in the hands of the states. Abortion is legal in Delaware, and the Department of Justice said the Seaford ruling, based on state law, will not be affected by the national decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

Read more about the city's ordinance, and the controversy over the Planned Parenthood clinic, in our earlier coverage:

State sues Seaford over city’s fetal remains law
In an effort to avoid a lawsuit, Seaford Council recently voted in a special meeting not to enforce its recently enacted fetal remains ordinance, although it could put the law into effect at any time. That has not prevented a lawsuit. For those who’ve been living under a rock lately,
Inside the debate over fetal remains in Seaford
When it comes to the new Seaford ordinance requiring that fetal remains from abortions and miscarriages be buried or cremated, saying opinions differ is putting it very mildly. And one of the biggest disputes is what the ordinance is all about. Both sides are gearing up for a legal battle.
Planned Parenthood opens a new clinic in Seaford, to cheers and outrage
On Wednesday, Planned Parenthood confirmed it is opening a new clinic in Seaford, although that was a very poorly kept secret. Abortion opponents have been protesting the new clinic for months, piecing together evidence of the plans from online job postings and Sussex County building permits. The cl…