Mayor David Genshaw, of Seaford, Delaware, believed it was the right thing to do. “We just needed the courage to say this is the right thing for our community and stand up for human dignity,” he told The Lancaster Patriot. “It is clearly wrong to treat human remains as medical waste.”
Following Genshaw’s leadership, the city of Seaford recently passed an ordinance which requires the remains of aborted or miscarried babies to be treated as human remains, requiring either a burial or cremation.
On January 11, Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings filed a lawsuit against the City of Seaford over the ordinance.
“It brings me no joy to sue one of our own cities,” said Attorney General Jennings in a press release, “but three councilmen backed by dark, outside money have left me with no choice. The law is clear: Seaford’s ordinance is precluded by State law. This ordinance is part of a national wave of anti-abortion policies funded by extremists who would have our country dragged fifty years into the past. Left unchecked, it threatens serious, irreparable, and unconstitutional harm. And at the end of the day, it will amount to little more than an expensive publicity stunt.”
The press release from the state of Delaware says the ordinance “would force anyone who has a surgical abortion at an ‘abortion facility’ or a miscarriage at a ‘health care facility’ to have the fetal tissue interred or cremated at their own expense, despite the hardship on patients and clear preemption by State law.”
Genshaw said this is a misreading of the ordinance.
According to the ordinance, mothers may “waive their rights under this Ordinance and allow the performing health care facility to determine whether disposition of fetal remains following an abortion is made by cremation or internment (including the final location of any such remains).”
If a mother waives her rights, the cost will fall on the provider. If a mother exercises her rights, Genshaw said local funeral homes will provide cremation services for free.
Genshaw also believes the ordinance is not at variance with State law. The text of the ordinance addresses this concern.
“The State of Delaware has not, by statute or regulation, expressed an intent to regulate the disposition of fetal remains,” the city ordinance reads. “Consequently, a municipal Ordinance which furthers a woman’s right to determine the final disposition of fetal remains and upholds prenatal dignity is within the City of Seaford’s broad home rule power and is not inconsistent with any Delaware state law.”
When asked about Jennings’ dark money comment, Genshaw said that the city of Seaford is not receiving any money. All donations are being directed to Delaware Strong Families, a faith-based organization.
Genshaw cited his faith as one of the reasons he believed this ordinance was the right thing to do.
“I am a Christian,” Genshaw told The Lancaster Patriot. “I don’t leave my faith at the doorstep for anything I do. When something convicts your heart as the right thing, it will carry you through all the negatively and accusations. I was convinced that I was responsible to bring this ordinance forward for a vote by the city council.”
Genshaw expressed his appreciation for the city council’s courage to act on this issue. “They vote where the Mayor has no vote,” he said. “They deserve credit for their action.”
He also applauded the work of the city solicitor, Dan Griffith, for his work in crafting the city ordinance.
Similar laws already existed in other parts of the nation. “The hard work had already been done,” Genshaw said. “We just needed the courage to say this is right for our community and take a stand for human dignity.”