Nebraska could have been the next state to protect babies from abortions if not for a recalcitrant Republicans who sold out unborn children.
Republican Sen. Merv Riepe has cosponsored the measure to protect babies from abortion when their heartbeat can be detected, but today he 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.
Riepe filed an amendment to the bill to allow killing babies in abortions up to 12 weeks, which would have neutralized most of the pro-life protections.
To secure passage and protect women in very rare situations, the bill already included exceptions for cases of rape, incest and medical emergencies that threaten the life of the mother, making specific exceptions for ectopic pregnancies, IVF procedures, and allowing for the removal of a fetus that has died in the womb.
The bill’s author, Thurston Sen. Joni Albrecht rejected that argument, saying the bill already accounted for very rare situation possible but still allowing abortions to be banned when used as birth control.
“This is simply not necessary,” Albrecht said.
She said the 6-week bill was already a compromise from her original legislation that more properly protected babies starting at conception.
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“This bill is about one thing,” she said. “It’s protecting babies with beating hearts from elective abortion.”
Last year’s bill fell two short and pro-life advocates in Nebraska will need to work hard to obtain another vote.
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 this week shows tens of thousands of unborn babies were saved from abortion in the first five months after the June ruling.
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