The Nebraska legislature has passed a bill ban abortions after 12 weeks, becoming 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,” which was previously added as an amendment to LB 574. This afternoon, Nebraska legislators voted 33-15 to pass the Let Them Grow Act that eliminates elective painful, late-term abortions in the state and saves babies at the point when their hearts have beat over 10 million times.
Republican Gov. Jim Pillen, who pushed for the bill and met with various lawmakers to support it will sign the pro-life bill into law. An emergency clause was also included which allows the law to go into effect once he signs the measure.
SBA Pro-Life America’s Western Regional Director Adam Schwend told LifeNews he was elated by the news.
“Life is winning in the states. Nebraska’s victory caps off an incredible week of progress with North Carolina overriding Gov. Cooper’s veto of their own 12-week protection and South Carolina’s House passage of a heartbeat bill,” he said. “Protecting babies at 12 weeks is a significant gain for life in Nebraska. Though the majority of Nebraskans wanted a heartbeat bill to be passed this year, we are grateful for the persistence of Gov. Pillen and pro-life legislators in moving the state forward to protect unborn children from painful, late-term abortions. At 12 weeks, you can know the gender and begin to see if baby resembles mom or dad. There’s no denying the humanity of an unborn child at this stage who sucks their thumb and responds to touch.”
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“Our hope was to pass protection for beating hearts in the womb, detectable at about six weeks, with the Nebraska Heartbeat Act, but that failed to advance beyond the filibuster mounted by opponents,” said Sandy Danek, Executive Director of Nebraska Right to Life. “While this law allows unlimited abortions for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, it is still more limiting than the law that has been in place since 2010, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”
Based on the Nebraska 2021 Statistical Report of Abortions, 2,360 abortions were performed, 2,195 of which took place before 12 weeks gestation.
“Unfortunately, since approximately 90% of abortions occur before 12 weeks, that’s still so many lives being lost,” said Danek. “We will continue to work, as we have for more than 50 years, to
protect all Nebraska preborn babies.”
Senators previously successfully overcame a filibuster on a 33-14 vote for the amendment, which allowed the bill to advance.
The pro-life legislation came after one republican lawmaker sold out the lives of unborn children and blocked a bill to protect them at 6 weeks.
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.
“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.
The advancement of protections in North Carolina, South Carolina and Nebraska mirror the pro-life momentum seen in other states during the 2023 legislative session season. Montana, this month, established new laws to prevent taxpayer funded abortions, require abortionists to report women harmed by abortion pills, protect the lives of abortion survivors and require the licensing of abortion facilities. North Dakota Gov. Burgum signed a measure protecting babies at all stages. Florida Gov. DeSantis signed a heartbeat law in April. A Wyoming measure prohibiting dangerous abortion pills was also recently signed.