Anti-abortion petition circulating in Bellevue fails

An anti-abortion petition in Bellevue has failed to gain enough signatures.
Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 4:21 PM CDT
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BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - A petition to initiate a ban on abortion in the city of Bellevue has failed.

Assistant City Attorney Annie E. Mathews confirmed to 6 News on Wednesday that the petition submitted to the city about a month ago didn’t have enough signatures to qualify for a special election on the issue.

In order to proceed to the City Council, the petition needed signatures representing at least 20% of the number of legally eligible voters in Bellevue, amounting to 7,812 qualified electors.

“According to the signature verification performed by the Sarpy County Election Commission, it was determined that 7,372 signatures were submitted. Of the 7,372 signatures received, 4,600 of them were determined to be signatures of qualified electors,” Mathews said in an email to 6 News.

That means 2,772 of the signatures were determined to be from people not qualified to sign the city petition.

Mark Lee Dickson, the Texas man spearheading the initiative, said at the time the petition was submitted that they submitted 521 petition packets and well over 7,000 signatures. Dickson’s campaign to stake out “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn” across the country initiated the petition in August — just a week after then-Gov. Pete Ricketts announced there wasn’t enough support to call a special legislative session to ban abortion in Nebraska.

At that time, the movement had already succeeded in eight other small Nebraska towns, none with a population larger than 1,000 people. For comparison, Bellevue has about 63,000 people.

Mathews previously told 6 News that proponents must wait two years before filing a new petition for an abortion ban in the city.

When asked what the next steps are, organizer Judy Mansisidor said to 6 News: “We’ll continue to ask.”

In a letter to the Bellevue City Council and Mayor Rusty Hike, she asks that in the meantime, the issue be put on the agenda for consideration.

“There’s council meeting after council meeting. We can submit request after request. The fight for every human life is a battle worth sticking it out for,” Mansisidor said. “There’s many options, but the one that’s not an option is to quit and give up.”

Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this report.