A six-week abortion ban with assisted conception could be in Nebraska’s future

State Sen. Joni Albrecht held a press conference at the Nebraska State Capitol on Wednesday, January 11, to detail a proposed ban on abortions that includes exceptions for maternal life, rape, and incest.

Twenty-eight of her colleagues joined her, including Sen. Mike Jacobson of North Platte.

Albrecht’s Nebraska Heartbeat Act and the Nebraska Assisted Conception Act would reduce access to abortion from 20 to about 6 weeks. It was not submitted until Friday, January 13th.

A second bill would provide up to $10 million in tax credits to incentivize donations to more than 25 pregnancies that help statewide organizations that provide education, food and supplies, transportation, housing, and job assistance to expectant mothers.

“Every parent remembers hearing their child’s heartbeat for the first time,” Albrecht said. “The heartbeat is a universal sign of life, and we also know that abortion stops the beating heart.”

“For a young woman alone, the (first) heartbeat can be very scary,” Albrecht said. Helped Conception staff and volunteers (will) walk her through the flow of emotions.

With 25 assisted pregnancy organizations in every corner of the state, she said, the free services will help women at every stage.

heart beat

Abortions as early as six weeks will be prohibited when what is sometimes called a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, the point at which scattered electrical impulses that make rhythmic impulses — such as a heartbeat — can be detected.

Doctors will be ordered to perform an ultrasound to listen to the fetal heartbeat. If a heartbeat is detected, doctors will be prohibited from aborting a prenatal baby.

A year ago, Albrecht submitted that abortion would have been banned. The bill did not pass. It has received criticism because it would affect ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or in vitro fertilization (IVF), and Albrecht said the new bill would specify that this would not be affected.

State Sen. Julie Salama of Dunbar introduced a similar bill in 2022 that has stalled in committee.

Dr. Robert Plumbeck, an OB-GYN based in Lincoln, joined Albrecht at the news conference and said there was nothing in the bill that would prevent him from providing life-saving care to the mother.

“There is no doubt, biologically or medically, that these are two separate individuals,” said Plumbeck, the specialist for 35 years. “They have their own heartbeat. They have their own genetic makeup. They have their own medical needs. They are two separate people, and they both deserve professional, compassionate medical care.”

Doctors who perform abortions under the law will not face criminal proceedings but their licenses can be revoked. Women who request an abortion will not face penalties.

get votes

All but one of the senators who attended Wednesday were Republicans (Sen. Mike McDonnell of Omaha). The other four Republicans on the panel — State Sen. Tom Brandt of Plymouth, Myron Dorn of Adams, Ben Hansen of Blair, and House Speaker John Arch of La Vista — endorsed Albrecht’s 2022 bill, as did McDonnell.

This would result in Albrecht receiving 33 votes if those four and all present gave their support, which would be enough to overcome the filibuster and become law. However, opponents note that it is too early to start counting votes and are confident they can block the effort.

“We’ve outlawed abortion bans in the past here in Nebraska, and I have no doubt we can do it again,” state senator Megan Hunt said after the news conference.

Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad said she is “always optimistic that people will bring open hearts and open minds” to the discussion and understanding of what abortion restrictions have done to sister states.

“It’s harmed the practice of medicine, it’s harmed the citizens of their state, and it’s provided chilling effect for a whole host of unintended consequences, and we can’t ignore that,” Conrad said, adding that people need to let the process play out.

After the press conference, Conrad, Hunt, and State Senator George Dungan of Lincoln described what Prohibition meant, especially for women of color and women with low incomes or those living in rural areas of the state.

Hunt said many women may be “forced” to stay pregnant, face medical emergencies and leave the state to receive care.

“This is cruel,” Hunt said. “It is heartless and does not reflect the values ​​of Nebraska.”

Dungan said Wednesday’s announcement was hindering women’s healthcare decisions by politicians. He said voters told him on the campaign trail that’s exactly what they didn’t want.

“I still consider myself young, and I can tell you that when I have conversations with my friends and other people in my area, they say laws like this make them want to leave,” said Dungan, 38. Fourth youngest member of the legislature. “If a law like this is passed, I think we will see more people leaving and fewer people entering.”

Albrecht said the statewide poll shows 58% of Nebraska voters, including nearly two-thirds of Independents and nearly half of Democrats, support a law that protects unborn children from the moment their heartbeat can be detected.

Hunt already made LR18CA And LR19CA For voters to decide whether the Nebraska Constitution should be amended to protect reproductive freedoms and prevent future restrictions.

Conrad introduced LR20CA With Hunt and State Senator Machila Kavanaugh of Omaha for the electors to decide whether the right to individual privacy should be enshrined in the Nebraska Constitution.

Prepare for a possible future

It remains to be seen how senators will handle the issue once the bills are formally introduced — or what tools senators can use to block the legislation if it maintains this level of support — but Albrecht said women need to prepare.

“We hope, before the bill becomes law, (women) understand that it is a six-week ban and that they need to seek professional help if they feel they are going to give birth,” she said.

(the North Platte Bulletin contributed to this report.)

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