Nebraska lawmakers hope to join more than a dozen other states this year in banning abortions on unborn babies once their heartbeat is detectable.
On Wednesday, the first day of the new legislative session, state Sen. Julie Slama, R-Sterling, introduced the Heartbeat Act (LB 781), a bill that would protect unborn babies by banning almost all abortions in the state, the Omaha World-Herald reports.
“Nebraska is a pro-life state,” Slama said in a statement. “Passing LB781 is an absolute necessity to protect innocent life. Since 2000, we have lost over 50,000 lives to abortion in Nebraska. LB781 simply makes it illegal to stop a baby’s beating heart.”
Her legislation would require abortionists to check for the unborn baby’s heartbeat before doing the abortion and prohibit the abortion if the baby’s heartbeat is detected. Typically, an unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected by six weeks of pregnancy, before most abortions occur.
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The bill has 20 co-sponsors in the state Senate, and Republicans control the state legislature.
State pro-life organizations, including Nebraska Right to Life and Nebraska Family Alliance, praised Slama for making protections for unborn babies a priority in the new year.
“Nebraska is a pro-life state, and our laws should reflect that!” the alliance said in a statement online. “From the moment of conception to when a mother hears her baby’s heartbeat for the first time, from a newborn’s first breath to an elderly person’s final days, every life has intrinsic value. Thank you, Senator Julie Slama, for bringing the Heartbeat Act to Nebraska!”
However, the ACLU of Nebraska and Planned Parenthood vowed to fight the legislation, calling it “one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the entire nation,” according to the local news.
More than 2,000 unborn babies are aborted in Nebraska every year, according to state health statistics. Each unborn baby was a unique, valuable human being who did not have to die.
Recent polls show strong public support for legal protections for unborn babies. An October poll from the University of Houston/Texas Southern University found 55 percent of Texas residents support their state heartbeat law.
Similarly, a recent Gallup poll found that 52 percent of Americans take a pro-life position on abortion, waiting all (19 percent) or almost all (33 percent) of abortions made illegal. In contrast, 45 percent of Americans say all (32 percent) or almost all (13 percent) abortions should be legal.
And a 2021 Marist poll found that more than three quarters of Americans (76 percent), including a majority who identify as pro-choice, want significant restrictions on abortion.
Currently, however, states are forced to legalize abortions for any reason up to viability under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Because of these cases, the U.S. is one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions up to birth.
Since 1973, about 63 million unborn babies and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of mothers have died in supposedly “safe,” legal abortions.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court gave pro-life advocates renewed hope when it refused twice to block enforcement of the Texas heartbeat law. As a result, Texas is the first state to be allowed to enforce a pre-viability abortion ban in nearly five decades.
In December, the justices also heard a direct challenge to Roe from Mississippi in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. The Supreme Court likely will publish its ruling on the case in June.
Both cases have renewed hope in the pro-life movement that states will be allowed to protect unborn babies from abortions again soon.
The Guttmacher Institute predicts that Nebraska would be one of 26 states that would ban abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe.
ACTION ALERT: Contact Nebraska state lawmakers and urge them to support the heartbeat bill to protect unborn babies.