For the next two years at least, Nebraska taxpayers will not be forced to fund Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups.
Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a two-year $8.8 billion state budget into law Wednesday with a measure that prohibits tax dollars to groups that promote or provide abortions, the AP reports.
“Today, I signed new pro-life budget language into law. This provision ensures that Title X taxpayer dollars do not fund abortion services, including abortion referrals, at any clinic in Nebraska,” Ricketts said.
The budget prohibits Title X family planning 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. Groups also may qualify if they completely separate their abortion practices from their health care services.
Controversy engulfed the budget when Gov. Ricketts inserted language restricting the use of federal family planning funds. The language directs the money only to clinics which provide family planning services without performing abortions, effectively carving Planned Parenthood out of the budget. Supporters had to overcome a filibuster which derailed approval of the budget twice. It passed only when a handful of legislators negotiated a compromise, which changed the language, but left the restrictions in place.
Nebraska distributes $1.9 million in Title X funding to 42 clinics throughout the state, three run by Planned Parenthood. The clinics serve 28,000 poor Nebraskans, mostly women.
Planned Parenthood sees about 8,000 of those patients each year. In a statement Thursday, the abortion chain criticized Nebraska lawmakers for the defunding measure and vowed to keep fighting.
“We will not stop fighting for our patients and every person’s right to control their own body, own lives, and own future,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood.
Nebraska Right to Life praised the legislature for passing the budget with intact pro-life language.
“Nebraska Right to Life is thankful that the majority of the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 944 with pro-life language in the State Budget that impacts Title X funding.” said Julie Schmit-Albin, NRL executive director. “The provision ensures that Title X funding for low income Nebraskans is protected while guarding against any illegal melding of Title X funds to support abortion activities.”
A poll conducted in March found strong opposition to taxpayer funding for abortions 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.
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In Nebraska, Planned Parenthood receives about $300,000 in Title X taxpayer funding every year, according to the Nebraska Catholic Conference, which supports the new budget.
Gov. Ricketts proposed the measure in his budget earlier this year.
“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,” Ricketts said at the time.
He 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.
Planned Parenthood aborts about 320,000 unborn babies every year, about one third of all abortions in America, according to its own annual reports.
The U.S. Department of Justice currently is investigating allegations that Planned Parenthood illegally profited from the sales of aborted baby body parts.