Nebraska Legislature Approves 12-Week Abortion Ban And Restrictions On Gender-Affirming Care For Children

The Nebraska Legislature has passed a 12-week abortion ban and restrictions on gender-affirming care for children, causing significant controversy among lawmakers. Conservative legislators managed to gather enough votes to overcome a filibuster and approve the bill, which is expected to be signed into law by Republican Governor Jim Pillen.

The atmosphere in the Nebraska Capitol has been tense, with insults exchanged between lawmakers. The debates leading to the vote have been so contentious that both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said they may be unable to work together in the future.

During the debate, there was a disruption when protesters in the balcony of the chamber shouted obscenities at conservative lawmakers and threw objects, including what appeared to be bloody tampons, onto the floor. One person was arrested, and the balconies were cleared. Outside the chamber, chants of “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” could be heard.

Nebraska currently prohibits abortion after around 20 weeks of pregnancy, but this new bill introduces a ban at 12 weeks, with exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and to save the mother’s life. Additionally, the bill prohibits transgender individuals under 19 from receiving gender-confirming surgery, with the state’s chief medical officer responsible for setting rules regarding puberty blockers and hormone therapies. Some exceptions are made for minors already undergoing treatment prior to the ban.

Restrictions on gender-affirming medical care for minors have been enacted in at least 17 other states, with similar proposals pending in Texas and Missouri. Critics argue that these restrictions harm transgender youth and endanger their health.

Senator Machaela Cavanaugh led a filibuster against many bills, even those she supported, to protest the proposed restrictions on gender-affirming care. She criticized conservatives who voted for the combined bill and warned of potential negative consequences, such as people, medical professionals, and businesses leaving the state.

The abortion limits were merged with the transgender health bill, leading to clashes between Senator Cavanaugh and Senator Julie Slama. Senator Slama insinuated that conservatives supported the restrictions on gender-affirming care as retaliation against Senator Cavanaugh, claiming that her actions had provided the necessary votes. Senator Cavanaugh responded by vowing to use up all available time to slow down the legislative process.

Conservatives in the officially nonpartisan Legislature took an unconventional approach by amending the transgender health bill to include the abortion restrictions after a separate bill banning abortion after six weeks failed to advance.

Critics argue that this maneuver was an underhanded way to pass a ban that had already been rejected, while conservatives claim it was a compromise.

Once the governor signs the bill, it will take effect immediately due to the attached emergency clause.

North Carolina also passed a 12-week abortion ban this week, after it was initially vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. These are among a slew of restrictions enacted in states after the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established a nationwide right to abortion.

 

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