Delaware's governor has signed into law a bill ensuring abortion remains legal in the state, the first such move in the United States since President Donald Trump was elected on a pledge to overturn a landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationally.
A spokesman for Democratic Governor John Carney Jr. said on Friday he supported the rights and protections afforded under Roe v. Wade, a 1973 Supreme Court decision protecting a woman's right to abortion.
"For that reason, he signed the bill into law," said the spokesman, Jonathan Starkey, noting that the law takes effect immediately.
Trump, a Republican whose election was backed by anti-abortion groups, has promised to appoint justices to the nation's top court who would overturn Roe v. Wade and let states decide whether to legalize abortion.
States have responded by seeking to write Roe V. Wade into their own laws, with Delaware the first to do so successfully.
Abortion rights advocates on Friday cheered the Delaware law, which codifies at the state level provisions of Roe v. Wade.
"We applaud Governor Carney for sending a strong message that state policymakers will protect women's access to critical reproductive health services in the face of threats at the federal level," said Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Elizabeth Nash, an analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion policy, said the law makes a statement that women are valued citizens in Delaware.
"It says to women that you are important, you have the ability to decide when to have a child and the state supports you in making the decision that is best for you and your family," Nash said.
Abortion opponents had lobbied against the legislation.
"This abortion law is a tragedy for Delaware," Delaware Right to Life spokeswoman Moira Sheridan said in an email message. "(Carney) ignored the voices of Delawareans who rallied in opposition to this legislation, which now makes us the First State for Unrestricted Abortion."
Carney's signature of the law on Thursday came just days after the state House voted 22 to 16 on Tuesday to pass the bill, which was approved by the state Senate 11-7 on May 9. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats.
A bill to support abortion rights was approved by the Illinois legislature in May but the state's Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, has vowed to veto it.
In January, New York's Assembly adopted legislation similar to Delaware's, but it has stalled in the Senate.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Andrew Hay)