Wednesday is a big day in the Nebraska Legislature as debate is scheduled to begin on a heartbeat bill that could save thousands of unborn babies’ lives.

After narrowly failing to pass the legislation last year, pro-life lawmakers said they have just enough votes, 33, to overcome pro-abortion Democrats’ filibuster and pass the life-saving legislation this spring, the Nebraska Examiner reports.

“I’m very encouraged and very impressed with the senators who support this bill,” Sandy Danek of Nebraska Right to Life told the newspaper. “I think we feel confident that the pro-life senators who have signed onto the bill will remain with us. … We feel very good about our commitments.”

The pro-life organization plans to hold a rally and press conference Wednesday at the state Capitol to show their support for lawmakers’ efforts to protect unborn babies.

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 involving the mother’s life or health.

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. To overcome a filibuster, lawmakers need a two-thirds majority, or 33 votes.

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

ACTION ALERT: To support this important pro-life legislation, Contact Nebraska state senators.

Albrecht told the Examiner that she would like to see all unborn babies protected from elective abortions, but she made compromises in her bill so it has enough votes to pass and save babies’ lives.

“I’m hoping we can change some hearts on the floor,” she said Monday. “It’s about elective abortions. We want to stop that from happening. Women who it’s inconvenient for them to have [their baby] … This is the right thing to do for the people.”

A January poll by WPA Intelligence found 58 percent of Nebraskans support protecting an unborn baby with a beating heart from abortion.

Meanwhile, pro-abortion groups are lobbying aggressively to pressure lawmakers to change their minds, including pro-life Democrat state Sen. Mike McDonnell of Omaha and Republican state Sen. Merv Riepe of Ralston, who introduced a 12-week abortion ban, according to the report.

Here’s more from the Examiner:

Albrecht said Riepe has told her he will support her bill as long as he gets debate on his amendment, which he confirmed Monday. Riepe told the Examiner if his choice is between keeping Nebraska’s current 20-week abortion ban or LB 626, he’d pick LB 626.

“If I’m the 33rd vote, I would give her that vote for cloture,” he said. “I simply want to have it be discussed. I’m not working the bill, not vote-counting, not lobbying. If push comes to shove, I don’t like the 20 weeks. I think it’s excessive.”

If the heartbeat bill passes, Gov. Jim Pillen, a pro-life Republican, has said he will sign it.

“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 in March.

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. Along with Nebraska, Florida lawmakers also are debating heartbeat legislation this spring.

Pro-life leaders estimate tens of thousands of babies’ lives have been saved since the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling in June.

ACTION ALERT: To support this important pro-life legislation, Contact Nebraska state senators.

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