Abortion ban amendment attached to Nebraska gender-affirming care bill

Proposal to ban abortions at 12 weeks now linked to LB574
Abortion debate will return to the Nebraska Legislature this session after an amendment was added to LB574 late Monday.
Published: May. 8, 2023 at 5:09 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - The abortion debate will return to the Nebraska Legislature this session after all, despite widespread belief that the topic had been put to rest.

A little more than a week after LB626 failed on a second-round vote in the Unicameral, the controversial issue has been reformulated as an amendment now attached to the bill calling for a ban on gender-affirming care for youth.

Abortion debate will soon begin again in the Nebraska Legislature.

AM1658, called “The Preborn Child Protection Act,” was added Monday by State Sen. Ben Hansen of Blair to LB574, a bill introduced by State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha known as the “Let Them Grow Act,” which has been at the center of fellow Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh’s filibuster.

The failure of LB626 meant that abortion would stay legal in Nebraska for up to 20 weeks. The new amendment calls for a ban on abortion at 12 weeks.

On Thursday, April 27, a cloture vote on LB626 came up one vote short of ending the filibuster. Issuing a statement at the time that he was “profoundly disappointed” the state senators called “present not voting” during the vote, Gov. Jim Pillen called on one of the bill’s co-sponsors, State Sen. Merv Riepe of Ralston, to bring forward a motion to reconsider — but he did not.

Some on the Unicameral floor categorized the amendment as a political maneuver to circumvent the rules.

”It’s like the World Series is best of seven — now you’re making it best of nine. Now you’re making it best of 11, really, with all the times you’ve stopped the clock,” said State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha. “You’ve changed the rules. You’ve put your thumbs on the scale and you can’t stand to lose fair and square.”

The rules for this legislative session don’t all a bill to cover more than one subject.

“No bill shall contain more than one subject and the same shall be clearly expressed in the title. No law shall be amended, unless the new act contains the section or sections as amended, and the section or sections so amended shall be repealed.”

Rule No. 5, Sec. 2 (b) of the 108th Nebraska Legislature rules

In this case, abortion and gender-altering care are on the same bill. Opponents of both bills say that’s a problem.

“What they would like to do is a do-over of LB626,” Hunt said. “You all had your chance to vote for Sen. Riepe’s amendment for 12 weeks, and you would have had your little abortion ban — but you missed the window. The ship has sailed. This is not a compromise. If you want to talk about compromise, you can bring it up next year.”

“If the amendment passes, you know who loses? Nebraskans,” said Sen. Jen Day of Omaha. “That’s who loses. Congrats. Look at the great work you’re doing to take healthcare away, healthcare from your own constituents.”

“It will be interesting to see how this plays out,” said Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard. “But don’t stand up and take the high ground like we’ve never done this before, because we have. And if we have the votes, we’ll do it again.”

There are 15 days left in the session. No word yet on when LB574 might be scheduled for debate.

“Politicians should not be deciding who can get an abortion, when, or why - ever. The decision to get an abortion is deeply personal and should be left to patients and their doctors. Every Nebraskan deserves the freedom to control their bodies and their futures, and that includes the freedom to access life-affirming gender care.

Nebraskans just beat an abortion ban two weeks ago, and we’re already back at it again. We’ve beaten five abortion bans in the last year, and Nebraskans are ready to defeat another one. Whether it be a ban on gender affirming care, or a ban on abortion, the goal is to take away people’s power over their lives and their futures. And we won’t let it happen.”

Andi Curry Grubb, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska