Nebraska Legislature to explore expanded abortion ban

By: and - March 25, 2022 6:20 pm
Sen. Joni Albrecht

State Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston (Courtesy of Unicameral Information Office)

LINCOLN – A rarely employed “pull motion” in the Nebraska Legislature on Friday revived an impassioned debate on abortion.

Lawmakers Friday voted 28-13 to bring Legislative Bill 933 to a full floor discussion after the bill had failed to advance from the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

Introduced by State Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston, LB 933 is a so-called “trigger” bill that would automatically ban abortion in Nebraska in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy if enabling national legislation were adopted or the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade guarantee of abortion rights.

‘Historical moment’

That would effectively make abortion illegal in all instances in Nebraska.

State Sen. John Lowe of Kearney (Courtesy of Unicameral Information Office)

Debate on the proposal is to pick up again in the Legislature in the coming days.

Albrecht said that 13 states, including Missouri, Wyoming and South Dakota, have already passed similar measures, and that Nebraska should follow suit due to

the possibility that a more conservative Supreme Court might overturn Roe v. Wade.

“This is a historical moment that calls for action,” the senator said. 

The bill calls for criminal penalties for physicians who perform abortions, but allows for medical interventions necessary to preserve the life of the mother.

The proposal sparked emotional debate among senators.

Sen. wishart
State Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln
(Courtesy of Unicameral Information Office)

Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln, who opposes the bill, said she would stand as the voice of young women who deserve control of their bodies.

“I’ve never felt it is more important for me to be in this spot today than right now,” she said. 


Several supporters of LB 933, including Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil, who choked up talking about protecting the unborn, offered personal stories that framed their position. 

State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha
State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha (Courtesy of Unicameral Information Office)

Sen. John Lowe of Kearney asked for a moment of silence, then told colleagues that was the sound of an ultrasound after an abortion: “Silence. The baby is dead.”

Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt said that bringing the “divisive” abortion measure up for debate during the waning days of the 2022 session diverts attention away from more pressing issues.

She called LB 933 a “radical, anti-woman, anti-family” proposal that comes as only about 100 hours of debate remains in the 2022 session. Still ahead: more debate on the state budget, spending the state’s American Rescue Act Plan funds, prison reform and tax breaks.  

Both Hunt and Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh pledged to use every available minute to block passage.

“It sickens me to my core,” Cavanaugh said.


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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.

Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics. She has won awards from organizations including Great Plains Journalism, the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) and the Associated Press. Cindy has been recognized by various nonprofits for community contributions and diversity efforts. She chairs the board that oversees the local university’s student newspaper.