Note: Please see a recent update in AP style, which avoids the use of “fetal heartbeat” bill since this legislation addresses neither a fetus (it’s still an embryo) nor a heartbeat (it hasn’t yet developed a heart).
Lincoln, Nebraska—Nebraska lawmakers who want to outlaw abortion today advanced a near total abortion ban through the first round of debate with a 33-16 vote, setting it up for a second round of debate in the coming days or weeks. Nebraska process requires the bill to advance through three rounds of debate before it becomes law.
Abortion supporters filled the Capitol rotunda and balcony as lawmakers who want to outlaw abortion in Nebraska repeatedly deflected questions about the near total abortion ban and discounted the expertise of physicians and major medical associations, along with the will the Nebraskans they represent, who are opposed to the near total ban. Senators that oppose the ban discussed the harms of passing the legislation, including the impacts to maternal health and the economy, as well as retaining doctors in a state that is already a desert when it comes to maternal health care.
“The battle to keep abortion safe and legal in Nebraska is far from over,” said Andi Curry Grubb, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska. “Today, abortion remains safe and legal in Nebraska and our residents have the right to control their bodies, families and futures. And we won’t stop until we win this fight for Nebraskans.”
The razor thin vote doesn’t come as a surprise, and the fight to preserve safe and legal abortion in Nebraska is far from over. Nebraskans have already beat four attempts to ban abortion in the past year.
The near total abortion ban would outlaw abortions at about six weeks of pregnancy, before many people know they are pregnant. It would also cause doctors who perform abortions at about six weeks of abortion or without an ultrasound to lose their license. It would be enforced by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, which would create a panel of medical peers to review any allegations leveraged against health care providers.
“We have proven time and time again in the past year that we have the power to defeat harmful abortion bans. We know this goes against the will of Nebraskans, who want to retain their bodily autonomy. That’s why it’s imperative Nebraskans step up and have their voices heard. We need to let the people elected to represent us that this isn’t acceptable and we aren’t backing down. Not now. Not ever,” Curry Grubb said.
This legislative session is the first since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, giving state politicians more control over Nebraskans’ bodies than they have. A growing majority of Nebraskans support safe and legal abortion. Fifty-nine percent of Nebraskans do not want any further abortion restrictions, which is a 23-percentage point difference compared to those who want abortion banned.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization. As the advocacy and electoral arm of PPNCS, we mobilize supporters of all parties to defend and increase access to family planning services and fact based, medically accurate sexuality education. We work to inspire and engage citizens to take up the cause of reproductive health and rights through education, electoral activity, grassroots organizing and legislative advocacy.