Nebraska Democrat lawmakers narrowly managed to block a bill Wednesday that would have protected more than 2,000 unborn babies every year by banning abortions in the state.
The Nebraska Examiner reports state lawmakers debated the Human Life Protection Act (Legislative Bill 933) for eight hours before holding a vote to end Democrats’ filibuster and advance the legislation for a final vote.
Ending a filibuster requires a two-thirds majority, and the action failed by just two votes in a 31-15 vote, according to the report. That means the bill likely is dead.
Often referred to as a “trigger ban,” the pro-life legislation, sponsored by state Sens. Joni Albrecht and Mike Flood, would have banned all abortions in Nebraska as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and allows states to protect unborn babies again. It allowed exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk.
“We’re not going to kill babies in Nebraska anymore. We’re going to take care of them,” Albrecht told lawmakers prior to the vote. “No one should have the right to kill an unborn child that doesn’t have a voice.”
The legislation would have saved thousands of babies’ lives every year. In 2021, 2,378 abortions were done in Nebraska, according to state health statistics.
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Albrecht urged her fellow lawmakers to recognize that life is a human right, and aborting unborn babies does not empower women, according to Nebraska Public Media.
“It is often said that our greatest resource in Nebraska is our people,” she said. “LB933 is about ensuring our most precious and vulnerable people, the preborn, to protect them from the violence of abortion.”
However, Democrats raised numerous objections, complaining that the legislation would punish doctors with felony charges and did not include an exception for rape. Others asserted that abortion is a “human right,” according to the local news reports.
“This bill takes a sledge hammer to our bodily autonomy,” said state Sen. Anna Wishart, a Lincoln Democrat, before voting against the bill.
At one point, state Sen. Julie Slama, a Sterling Republican, pushed back against Democrats’ arguments that abortions will happen anyway even if Nebraska bans them, Nebraska Public Media reports.
“Claiming that we can’t end abortion because it’s existed forever is a strawman argument,” Slama said. “Murder has existed forever. So has rape. If you’re following the argument that it’s existed forever so we shouldn’t bother, the logical conclusion is that we should just legalize everything. You see the flaw in that argument? I do, too.”
Sandy Danek was disappointed by the vote.
The head of Nebraska Right to Life told LifeNews: “When Roe v. Wade was decided, medical technology did not exist as it does today. We now have a window into the womb that allows us to see the humanity of the child with a heart that begins to beat at about 6 weeks gestation.”
The pro-life movement provides pregnancy help centers throughout the state. These centers, operating with private donor support, offer life-affirming alternatives to abortion by providing free ultrasounds, coordinating adoption options, parenting classes, material assistance and more.
“We believe that a mother and her child are worthy of love and support,” said Danek. We will continue our work with education, legislative efforts and political action until every life is protected and honored in our state.”
Pro-abortion groups held a protest Wednesday at the state Capitol to oppose the legislation.
In March, Wyoming became the 13th state to pass a trigger law that protects unborn babies by banning abortions as soon as the Supreme Court allows states to do so.
Currently, because of Roe, states are forced to legalize abortions up to viability. However, the Supreme Court is considering a Mississippi case that challenges that precedent, and a ruling is expected this summer.
The Guttmacher Institute estimates 26 states “are certain or likely to ban abortions” if the Supreme Court gets rid of Roe. Researchers estimate abortion numbers would drop by about 120,000 in the first year and potentially even more in subsequent years if the high court allows states to ban abortions again.
Across the country, state lawmakers are introducing legislation to protect unborn babies from abortion in the hopes that Roe soon will be overturned. Florida just passed a 15-week abortion ban that would save thousands of unborn babies from abortion every year, and the Idaho legislature passed a heartbeat bill. Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Arizona and other states also are advancing pro-life legislation this spring.
Meanwhile, pro-life advocates also are working to expand support services for families in need, through pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and even programs to help pregnant mothers in prison choose life for their babies.