Nebraska Attorney General Won’t File Appeal to Defend Abortion Screening Law
by Steven Ertelt
August 18, 2010
Lincoln, NE (LifeNews.com) — Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning will not file an appeal to defend new state law that helps women obtain more information about abortion risks. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed a lawsuit against a bill supported by pro-life advocates.
The measure is designed to help women get the kind of information on abortion’s risks and alternatives that it fails to provide.
The new law tightens informed consent requirements that help women choose abortion alternatives. It helps women understand the physical, psychological, emotional, demographic or situational risk factors associated with an abortion.
Bruning is concerned about the time and expense of defending a law he and pro-life groups say can be improved in the next legislative session to address the points raised in the lawsuit.
His spokesman confirmed today he will agree to a permanent federal injunction against enforcement of the law.
In July, U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp issued a ruling blocking the state from enforcing the law.
In her decision, Judge Smith Camp said the evidence shows her the law may make it more difficult for women to get abortions and said she is concerned abortion practitioners may be subject to crippling lawsuits.
"The effect of LB 594 will be to place substantial, likely insurmountable, obstacles in the path of women seeking abortions in Nebraska," AP reported the judge saying. "Plaintiffs have presented substantial evidence that the disclosures mandated by LB 594, if applied literally, will require medical providers to give untruthful, misleading and irrelevant information to patients."
In his brief he initially filed, Bruning argued Planned Parenthood is not the proper party to bring suit because only physicians are subject to liability under the Act. He also said the officials are not properly named defendants as they have no authority to enforce LB 594.
The abortion business is challenging LB 594, the "Womens Health Protection Act" and complained the bill "imposes requirements that are both impossible to meet and require physicians to flood their patients with false and misleading information."
Nebraska Right to Life executive director Julie Schmit-Albin told LifeNews.com today she concurs with Bruning.
"LB 594’s lead lobbyist, the Nebraska Catholic Conference, agrees that legal concerns raised about the statute can addressed by going back through the legislative process," she said. "If the Nebraska Catholic Conference and the bill’s sponsor, Senator Cap Dierks, are amenable to returning to the Legislature to address the constitutionality concerns; then Nebraska Right to Life defers to their lead on this issue."
She said pro-life advocates in the state need to know that this decision was not made because Bruning is backing down from his pro-life principles.
"Any suggestion that Attorney General Bruning is shirking his responsibility to defend pro-life legislation is not shared by Nebraska Right to Life,’ she said.
Schmit-Albin said she fully expects the attorney general to mount a strong defense of the other new pro-life Nebraska law which informs women of the pain an unborn child will experience during the abortion procedure. The goal of that law is to persuade mothers to choose life for their unborn children.
"If LB 1103, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is legally challenged upon its enactment on October 15th; we are confident that the Attorney General will vigorously defend any attack on that law. LB 1103 has a solid legislative history based upon medical documentation and testimony," she said.
Republican Gov. Dave Heineman signed the bill into law in April after the unicameral Nebraska legislature approved it 44-5.
He said the bill, and another educating women on the pain their unborn child will feel during an abortion, is " important legislation for Nebraska and I want to thank both senators for their thoughtful approach to this issue."
Women are suffering from avoidable physical and psychological complications that may have been prevented or minimized had they received adequate pre-abortion screening and counseling, Sen. Cap Dierks, who introduced LB 594, said at the time of the bill signing. Women deserve better. LB 594 will ensure that women receive the appropriate standard of care.
Abortion advocates complained about the lack of a mental health exception in the bill even though studies repeatedly show abortions cause mental health problems for women more so than women who carry their pregnancy to term.
LB 594 allows for civil lawsuits against abortion practitioners who fail to screen women for risk factors of abortion or to inform them of the potential complications of the abortion procedure.
LeRoy Carhart, who does abortions and late-term abortions at his Omaha-based abortion facility, called the bill "yet another piece of anti-choice legislation that does nothing but hinder a woman’s access to safe, legal abortion care."
But the Nebraska Catholic Conference says it is abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood that "have compromised the standard of care for counseling and screening of patients in order to reduce costs and maximize profits."
"In hundreds of cases each day, known risk factors for physical and psychological complications are not being detected because of negligent pre-abortion screening," it says. "Women are suffering from avoidable physical and psychological complications that may have been prevented or minimized if the proper pre-abortion screening standards had been met."
The bill does not impose any requirements on abortion providers that are contrary to the standard of care for screening which applies to other medical procedures.
Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From LifeNews.com
Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report Receive a free daily email report from LifeNews.com with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.