The Nebraska legislature took the first step towards become the next state to offer legal protection for babies before birth.
Nebraska State Senators voted to protect unborn babies from abortion at 12 weeks gestation by adopting the “Preborn Child Protection Act” amendment to LB 574.
Senators successfully overcame a filibuster on a 33-14 vote, which allowed the bill to advance.
“Every life should be valued, cherished, and protected,” said Karen Bowling, Executive Director of NFA. “Today’s vote takes us closer to that goal by providing greater protections to children both inside and outside the womb. We applaud senators for standing up for our children and urge final approval of the bill.”
LB 574 must go through one more round of debate before being sent to Governor Pillen’s desk, who has expressed strong support for the bill and 12-week amendment.
“The advancement of LB 574 with the 12-week amendment is a victory for vulnerable children and a rejection of the extreme tactics that were used to prevent these common-sense proposals from moving forward,” said Nate Grasz, Policy Director of NFA. “We will continue working to ensure children receive help and not harmful, irreversible surgeries, and innocent babies in the womb receive the love and protection they deserve.”
Republican Sen. Merv Riepe had cosponsored a 6-week measure to protect babies from abortion when their heartbeat can be detected. He even attended a recent pro-life rally for the bill where he stood behind pro-life leaders urging lawmakers to protect babies from abortions.
But last week, Riepe sold out the pro-life cause and the lives of thousands of babies and their moms and abstained from voting on the measure. That allowed a Democrat filibuster of the bill to prevail – making it so thousands of babies will continue to be killed in abortions until the legislature can try again next year.
Although pro-life groups were disappointed by the defeat of the heartbeat law protecting babies, they supported the 12-week measure to protect as many unborn children as possible.
“We were caught off guard by Senator Merv Riepe’s non-vote, given that he chose to co-sponsor the bill, serves on the Health and Human Services Committee and voted to advance the bill out of committee, and then voted to advance the bill on the first round of debate,” said Sandy Danek, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life.
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“Amendment 1658, the Preborn Child Protection Act, is an attempt to ban abortions in Nebraska at 12 weeks and will be attached to LB574, the ‘Let Them Grow Act,” Nebraska Right to Life wrote. “While we are extremely disappointed the Nebraska Heartbeat Act did not advance because of one ‘present, not voting”, a 12-week protection would still save the lives of Nebraska preborn children.”
Currently, abortion is legal for any reason up to 20 weeks in Nebraska. In 2021, 2,360 unborn babies were aborted and nearly two thirds were later than six weeks of pregnancy, according to the state health department.
Earlier in the month, hundreds of people participated in a pro-life rally outside the state Capitol, calling on lawmakers to protect unborn babies from abortion. Speaking to the crowd, Gov. Jim Pillen expressed hope that unborn babies soon will be protected in their state.
“The most important time and privilege for me as your governor is that we get this across the finish line, and today is the start,” Pillen said.
A January poll by WPA Intelligence found 58 percent of Nebraskans support protecting an unborn baby with a beating heart from abortion.
The pro-life legislation also has the support of the Nebraska Family Alliance, doctors and medical professionals.
During a hearing earlier this year, Dr. Robert Bonebrake, an OB-GYN and maternal fetal specialist, told lawmakers that the heartbeat bill protects both mothers’ and unborn babies’ lives, and does not hinder doctors from treating mothers with pregnancy complications, according to the Unicameral Update.
“LB626 lays out the clear standard for protecting a woman’s life and health,” Bonebrake said. “Any physician providing best medical practice is safe under this framework.”
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. Along with Nebraska, Florida lawmakers also are debating heartbeat legislation this month.
New data shows tens of thousands of unborn babies were saved from abortion in the first five months after the June ruling.