Nebraska Gov Jim Pillen Wants a Heartbeat Law: “We Have a Right to Protect Babies” From Abortion

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 27, 2023   |   10:21AM   |   Lincoln, Nebraska

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen declared his support for heartbeat legislation again last week, saying the state has a “right to save and protect” babies in the womb.

WJAG News Talk reports Pillen, a pro-life Republican, responded to attacks against the pro-life legislation during his radio call-in show.

“When babies have a heartbeat, the facts and science is crystal clear … I believe we as a state have as much right to save and protect as many babies as we do everyone else,” the governor said.

The Nebraska Heartbeat Act (LB 626), sponsored by state Sen. Joni Albrecht, R-Thurston, would prohibit abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected, typically about six weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions would be allowed for rape, incest and medical emergencies.

Currently, abortion is legal for any reason up to 20 weeks in Nebraska. Last year, the unicameral state legislature narrowly failed to pass similar legislation because pro-abortion Democrats filibustered, and some are threatening to do so again this year. The pro-life bill has 29 co-sponsors; to overcome a filibuster, it needs at least 33 votes.

Last week, Pillen said he believes it is very important for the state to protect unborn babies and help mothers in need, according to the report.

However, a caller criticized the legislation, saying an abortion decision should be between a man and a woman and God, not the state, and wrongly claimed that an unborn baby’s brain does not develop until 23 weeks of pregnancy.

ACTON ALERT: To support the heartbeat bill, Contact Nebraska state senators.

Pillen refuted the claim, telling the caller, “I’ve been in hospitals where NICUs are ecstatic where they’ve save a baby born at 21 1/2 weeks, went home after a 100 and some days and is doing great.”

An unborn baby’s brain begins to form at about five weeks of pregnancy and continues to develop into early adulthood. According to the Endowment for Human Development, an unborn baby’s brain waves have been recorded as early as 8 ½ weeks of pregnancy.

In Nebraska, 2,360 unborn babies were aborted in 2021, according to the state health department. Nearly two thirds were after six weeks of pregnancy when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable.

Earlier this year, Sandy Danek, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, said Nebraskans want unborn babies to be protected from abortion. She told a legislative committee about a recent poll from SBA Pro-Life America that found 58 percent of Nebraska voters support the heartbeat bill, according to the Unicameral Update.

“… people want preborn life to be protected,” Danek said. “Advancing policies like the Nebraska Heartbeat Act is consistent with Nebraska values.”

The pro-life legislation also has the support of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, doctors and other medical professionals.

Because the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, 14 states now are enforcing pro-life laws that prohibit or strictly limit the killing of unborn babies in abortions, and others are fighting in court to do the same. Pro-life leaders estimate tens of thousands of babies’ lives already have been saved.

Polls consistently show a strong majority of Americans support legal protections for unborn babies, especially after the first trimester or once their heartbeat is detectable.

ACTON ALERT: To support the heartbeat bill, Contact Nebraska state senators.