Nebraska abortion ban bill fails second-round vote, bill killed for session

LB626 aims to ban abortion once cardiac activity is detected - around 6 weeks
Nebraska's abortion ban bill failed in the Unicameral Thursday, and senators are confident the bill is dead for the session.
Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 12:12 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - A controversial abortion bill has failed in the second round of debate in the Nebraska Legislature.

A cloture vote on LB626 came up one vote short of ending the filibuster, 32-15. In recent history, failing cloture would mean the bill would be dead for the remainder of the session. However, the speaker has the ability to bring it back for another vote.

The bill coming back in the current session is unlikely, state senators have told 6 News.

Governor Jim Pillen issued a statement following the vote:

“I am a staunch defender of life and supporter of the Nebraska Heartbeat Act. I am profoundly disappointed in the cloture vote today. It is unacceptable for senators to be present not voting on such a momentous vote. I call on Senator Merv Riepe to make a motion to reconsider and stand by the commitments to life he has made in the past.”

Gov. Jim Pillen (R-NE)

This means that for now, abortion will stay legal in Nebraska up to 20 weeks.

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. Merv Riepe of Ralston, who did not vote, had filed an amendment to change the ban to 12 weeks. That amendment was not voted on before they adjourned for the day.

Nebraska's controversial six-week abortion ban bill failed in the Unicameral Thursday by a single vote.

Nebraska organizations had mixed reactions to the bill’s failure.

The Nebraska Republican Party shared disappointment:

“This is a disheartening and disappointing outcome from the Nebraska Unicameral. Senator Riepe, who ran on pro-life, has betrayed his co-sponsorship of the bill as well as statements he made on the record to voters. We call on Senator Riepe to reconsider his vote, uphold the promise of the original sponsorship, honor the commitments he made to voters, and defend the GOP platform. We pray the right decision will be made. We thank all of the Republican Senators and Democrat Senator McDonnell who stood by their signature, their promises, and their values.”

Todd Watson, Political Director of the NEGOP

The Nebraska Catholic Conference also released a statement on LB626:

“All preborn babies in Nebraska, whose beating hearts remind us of their existence, deserve to be kept safe during the most fragile moments of life. Their dignity does not depend on whether they are abled, wanted or from a family of means. They are created in God’s image and likeness. Some Nebraska lawmakers overlooked that fact today and cast aside an opportunity to safeguard the most vulnerable among us. Today’s vote is tragic, disappointing and consequential for thousands upon thousands of preborn babies. As we pray for an end to abortion in our state, we must continue to boldly advocate for laws that protect life and extend support for expectant mothers choosing life against all odds.

The Nebraska Catholic Conference will continue to work tirelessly with all Senators and Nebraskans to uphold human dignity in the law. We envision a Nebraska where our elected representatives truly protect all life, from conception to natural death. We sincerely thank Senator Joni Albrecht for her unwavering leadership along with the 31 State Senators, and Governor Jim Pillen, who voted to uphold in law the dignity of the preborn.”

Marion Miner, Nebraska Catholic Conference Associate Director of Pro-Life & Family Policy

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska said the vote is a victory for abortion access.

“Today’s vote is a huge victory for abortion access in Nebraska, the Midwest, and for the country. It means abortion will remain safe and legal in our state, providing people with the bodily autonomy they deserve. We have made it clear—no bans. Not now, not ever. And not in our state.”

Andi Curry Grubb, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska

The ACLU of Nebraska also celebrated the vote.

“Joy and relief because we know how devastating these bans can be when it comes to access for health care, and we know that the fight in the long term is not over. But today it’s a sense of relief knowing that abortion remains legal in Nebraska.”

Scout Richters with the ACLU of Nebraska

The Nebraska Democratic Party said it’s pleased with the vote as well.

“Today, Democrats were joined by 1 Republican to protect women’s reproductive freedom in our state. If it were up to the other state senators, women would have lost a right we held for over half a century. The Democratic Party plans to take this issue to the voters during the 2024 elections so they know which senators wanted to take away their reproductive rights and freedom to make health decisions for ourselves and our families. We thank the state senators, doctors, and grassroots advocates for never giving up and for showing the entire nation that we will not back down from a fight to protect our families.”

Jane Kleeb, Nebraska Democratic Party chair

Former State Sen. John McCollister said in a Tweet that Sen. Riepe should be commended for standing up against his colleagues.