Nebraska is getting closer to finalizing a budget that defunds Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups.
On Wednesday, state Senate lawmakers agreed to advance the budget bill for a final debate, according to the Omaha World-Herald. The measure to defund abortion groups in the budget came from Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is pro-life.
Pro-abortion lawmakers had been holding up the $8.8 billion bill because of the provision to stop $2 million in Title X funds from going to any group that “performs, assists with the performance of, provides directive counseling in favor of, or refers for abortion.”
The provision allows Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups to qualify for the funding if they stop aborting unborn babies or encouraging abortions. They also can qualify if they completely separate their abortion practices from their health care services.
Last week, Ricketts urged the Senate to “lay their differences aside and work together to get these budget adjustments done with the #prolife language.”
On Wednesday, the state Senate approved an amendment to address some of the concerns that caused the hold-up.
According to the report:
Other senators were concerned that the language would disqualify federally qualified health centers from receiving the funds they use to help low-income women and men pay for contraceptives, cervical cancer screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and other services. The money cannot be used for abortions.
Senators who supported Ricketts’ language said it was needed to ensure that federal money wasn’t being used for abortion-related services, which is prohibited by federal law. State audits found that some of the funds were mistakenly used and later paid back, which several senators said put the entire state at risk of losing funds.
Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Omaha said many Nebraskans feel it’s morally incorrect for their tax dollars to go to abortion services.
The amendment to the bill limits referrals to abortions for emergencies, but neutral, factual, nondirective information about pregnancy termination could still be given.
A poll conducted last week found strong opposition to taxpayer funding for abortion among Nebraskans, Catholic News Agency reports. According to Public Survey Research, 64 percent of Nebraskans oppose taxpayer funding for abortions, while just 19 percent support it.
In Nebraska, Planned Parenthood receives about $300,000 in Title X taxpayer funding every year, according to the Nebraska Catholic Conference, which supports the legislation.
“Nebraska is a pro-life state, so our budget should reflect our values. Any organization can have access to these dollars as long as they don’t provide abortions,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said earlier this year.
Ricketts also praised a law signed by President Donald Trump that makes it easier for states to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups. The law overturned a rule by pro-abortion President Barack Obama forcing states to fund abortion groups.
In recent years, several states have opted to direct Title X family planning grants to county health departments, community health centers and other types of comprehensive health care providers, in preference to groups engaged in objectionable activities such as Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion business in America.
If the legislation passes, the tax dollars would go to community health centers that provide comprehensive health care but not abortions. At the national level, one survey found that community health centers not only provide more comprehensive health care than Planned Parenthood, excluding abortions, they also outnumber the abortion group’s facilities by 20 to one.