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