NE Legislature Faces One Bill Restricting Two Personal Health Care Decisions
Monday, May 15, 2023
This week the Nebraska Legislature will consider a bill containing the two most controversial issues of the 2023 session: restrictions on medical treatment for transgender youths and an abortion ban.
Because a six-week abortion ban, Legislative Bill 626, failed to advance in late April, Sen. Ben Hansen, R-Blair, has added a 12-week abortion ban to Legislative Bill 574, which is a bill sponsored by Sen. Kathleen Kauth, R-Millard, to restrict gender-affirming medical care for transgender youths.
Jane Seu, legal and policy counsel for the ACLU of Nebraska, hopes Nebraskans will think about the effects the bills would have.
"They're both bills that are a huge infringement on bodily autonomy and a huge act of government overreach," Seu argued. "Inserting politicians in medical decisions and medical care, depriving folks of the choice to know what's best between them and their providers."
Kauth's original bill led to weeks of filibustering, protests and letters of opposition signed by hundreds of businesses and nonprofits from inside and outside the state.
Eight states have passed laws banning abortion at 12 weeks or earlier, seven of which have been temporarily or permanently blocked by the courts, as have a number of laws banning health care for trans youth.
Nate Grasz, policy director for the Nebraska Family Alliance, called the addition of a 12-week abortion ban a "big moment" for Nebraska, and said his organization feels hopeful about the bill.
"After the heartbeat bill was unable to advance, it became clear that a 12-week limit is what can be passed to provide greater protections to unborn children at this time," Grasz explained. "That's why we're supportive of this amendment."
Hansen's amendment defines the 12 weeks as starting on the first day of the woman's last menstrual period, making it closer to an 10-week ban.
Seu countered it should not be considered a reasonable "compromise."
"This is still an extreme ban and a real restriction on care," Seu asserted. "And should not be construed as a compromise or an improvement from the total ban that was voted down a couple of weeks ago. "
The next debate on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday.
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