Seaford votes to delay enforcement of fetal remains law

Seaford votes to delay enforcement of fetal remains law
Seaford City Council holds a special meeting on Thursday night to discuss delaying the fetal remains ordinance. 

Seaford Council members may not agree on a new ordinance requiring burial or cremation for fetal remains from abortion or miscarriage, but they did come together on holding off enforcement for now.

The Council voted unanimously Thursday night to stay enforcement of the ordinance indefinitely, which means the city will not enforce it but has the option to put it into effect at any time. The vote was 4-0, with Vice Mayor Dan Henderson out of town.

They made the decision after meeting privately in executive session. The reasoning was that they would give the state legislature time to address the issue. Mayor David Genshaw said the city is seeking to be good partners with the state.

"We certainly don't want to be antagonistic toward the state; we want to work with them," he said.

Multiple groups had threatened to sue over the ordinance, and Attorney General Kathy Jennings said they were in flagrant violation of state law.

State legislators were already making plans to intervene, Delaware Public Media reported. House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst told the outlet, “What happened in Seaford should not be happening at the municipality level. Them taking that into their own hands and making decisions is not the way that we run our government.”

Genshaw said if the state doesn't take action by this summer, the city might. "Six months seems fair."

He said despite the ordinance being on stay, he was proud of the Council for taking the issue on. "The social media blasting these guys have taken is really uncalled for," he said. "... But they did it because they knew it was the right thing to do here."

Council member James King, who voted against the ordinance, took the opportunity to speak against it again Thursday night.

"I feel this ordinance is illegal, unconstitutional and a violation of civil rights," he said. He called it posturing and grandstanding.

Read more:

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.
Seaford delays vote on abortion ordinance after ACLU, state letters
Seaford City Council planned to vote on an ordinance Tuesday night that would require that aborted remains be buried or cremated, but changed course after getting a letter from the ACLU of Delaware objecting to the law as a violation of state law and the U.S. Constitution, as well