Nebraska has a new pro-life state senator, one who could help usher in legal protections for unborn babies as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.

On Tuesday, Gov. Pete Ricketts appointed Kathleen Kauth to fill the seat of the late state Sen. Rich Pahls, who died from cancer this spring. She will represent the 31st legislative district in western Omaha.

Kauth, a pro-life Republican, could be a deciding vote on legislation to protect unborn babies’ right to life once the Supreme Court overturns Roe.

The Nebraska legislature narrowly failed to pass an abortion ban in April, coming just two votes shy of stopping pro-abortion Democrats’ filibuster. Pahls was pro-life, but he did not vote because he was absent due to health problems.

Kauth promised that she will vote for the bill during her swearing in ceremony Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.

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“I am pro-life and I thought the bill that was recently presented was a very solid one,” she said, adding that she would “consider it an honor” to support pro-life legislation.

Ricketts said he chose Kauth because of her solid pro-life views, telling reporters, “I always look for pro-life candidates.”

Just one more vote in the legislature would mean Nebraska could pass a bill to ban abortions and save thousands of unborn babies’ lives. And there is a Democrat lawmaker who may be that vote.

Here’s more from the AP:

One other lawmaker, Democratic state Sen. Justin Wayne, of Omaha, is seen as a key swing vote who might give [pro-life advocates] the last bit of support they need to pass it.

Wayne was absent from the legislative chamber when lawmakers considered the ban in April, and he has declined to say whether he would support or oppose it. An aide said Tuesday that Wayne wouldn’t be available to comment.

The Human Life Protection Act (Legislative Bill 933) sponsored by state Sens. Joni Albrecht and Mike Flood, would ban abortions in Nebraska as soon as the Supreme Court overturns Roe and allows states to protect unborn babies again. The bill allows exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk.

“We’re not going to kill babies in Nebraska anymore. We’re going to take care of them,” Albrecht said in April before the bill failed to pass. “No one should have the right to kill an unborn child that doesn’t have a voice.”

In 2021, 2,378 abortions were done in Nebraska, according to state health statistics.

Ricketts said he may call a special session this summer to pass pro-life legislation if Roe is overturned, according to the report.

In May, a leaked draft ruling showed a majority of the justices overturning Roe through the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. A final ruling is expected sometime later this month.

The Guttmacher Institute estimates 26 states “are certain or likely to ban abortions” if the Supreme Court gets rid of Roe. Researchers estimate abortion numbers would drop by about 120,000 in the first year and potentially even more in subsequent years if the high court allows states to ban abortions again.

Meanwhile, pro-life advocates also are working to expand support services for families in needthrough pregnancy centersmaternity homes, and even programs to help pregnant mothers in prison choose life for their babies.

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