Hilgers to seek special session of Nebraska Legislature if Roe v. Wade is struck down

Leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion indicates court will overturn abortion rights ruling

By: - May 3, 2022 2:32 pm
Sen. Mike Hilgers

State Sen. Mike Hilgers of Lincoln. (Paul Hammel/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — The speaker of the Nebraska Legislature said Tuesday that he will work with Gov. Pete Ricketts to quickly call a special session if, as is expected, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the landmark abortion rights ruling, Roe v. Wade.

State Sen. Mike Hilgers of Lincoln spoke Tuesday, a day after a draft Supreme Court opinion was leaked indicating the court will overturn Roe v. Wade.

Hilgers had prioritized the “trigger” bill debated by state lawmakers last month that would have immediately banned abortion in Nebraska upon a ruling by the court. 

But Legislative Bill 933 was blocked by a filibuster, and the proposal died at the end of the 2022 session in April.

Jen Day
State Sen. Jen Day of Gretna spoke at a rally of opponents of a ‘trigger’ abortion bill in April.  (Paul Hammel/Nebraska Examiner)

On Tuesday, when Hilgers was asked if a special session was in the offing given the leaked court opinion, the senator said it would be.

 “If the court overturns Roe and Casey, and Nebraska reclaims its constitutional ability to prohibit abortion, I will work with the governor to schedule a special session to protect the unborn,” he said.

Hilgers, a Republican who is seeking election for the post of Nebraska attorney general, said he had made LB 933 his personal priority bill to avoid a special session.  

The senator added that, as a former law clerk for a federal judge, the unauthorized leak of the opinion was “both unfathomable and unconscionable.”

Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt, who led the filibuster against LB 933, promised to make a special session, if called, “the most painful and excruciating political experience my colleagues have ever had.”

“Banning abortion care won’t end abortion, it will just make it unsafe for people who need this care,” Hunt said. It will also “criminalize” the patients and doctors trying to make the best decisions for their health and families, she said.

The ACLU of Nebraska issued a statement Tuesday saying it will continue to fight for reproductive freedom. The organization also called on advocates to rally at the Omaha City Hall and on the steps of the State Capitol in Lincoln at 5 p.m. CDT.

“We believe that everyone should be able to make the personal health care decisions that are best for themselves, their health, and their futures,” the ACLU of Nebraska stated, adding that 55% of Nebraskans, according to the organization’s polling, oppose abortion bans.

The Nebraska Democratic Party also issued a statement, signed by Democratic parties in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Guam and Democrats Abroad, stating they will work “tirelessly to recruit, train, and support Democratic candidates for state and federal office who will fight for the right to abortion.”

“We encourage our federal legislators to codify Roe immediately. We cannot and will not wait,” the statement said.

A special session of the State Legislature can either be called by the governor, or by the call of two-thirds of the 49-member Unicameral.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.