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Senator Merv Riepe introduces bill that would allow abortions in cases with fatal fetal anomaly

Posted at 4:11 PM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-22 17:11:42-05

LINCOLN — Last year Senator Merv Riepe found himself at a political crossroads.

The pro-life Republican was the sole conservative who voted not to advance a 6 week abortion ban.

His vote effectively killed the bill before conservatives made the unusual choice to amend the dead bill into a ban on gender affirming care.

That bill would end up passing, establishing a 12 week abortion ban in Nebraska.

“The 12 week bill addressed elective abortions, but I failed to include in that bill the fatal fetal anomaly piece,” said Riepe.

Riepe is now looking to add protections for mothers whose fetuses suffer from anomaly’s that make it unable to survive outside of the womb.

A situation that Tiffany Palmer found herself in during her second pregnancy.

“Everyone should have the right to make the best decision for their family. The mother and the father are the only ones that can make that decision. Because until you have lived it you cannot comprehend the magnitude of the situation," said Palmer.

LB1109 requires two doctors to make a judgment on the viability of the fetus before an abortion can be performed, and it also removes criminal penalties for performing those abortions.

Riepe said he has already received push back from conservative and liberal organizations alike for introducing LB1109.

He points to a billboard that has gone up in his district lambasting him for his vote last year as one of many attacks he expects to see because of the bill.

“I grew up as a farm kid, not a tough kid but we faced adversity. I served in the Navy as a corpsman, so I have some life experiences and I don’t expect, nor do I need everybody’s love and affection,” said Riepe.

The path forward for LB1109 will likely be a difficult one but Riepe isn’t letting that looming fight shake his resolve.

When thinking about the battle ahead Riepe said he is reminded of a gift given to him by one of his colleagues in the Vermont Legislature. A simple message that reminds him of the work he still has left to do.

“I still have it, it’s on my desk over there. It says do hard things, this is one of those do hard things. We shouldn’t be here to just address the easy things. They get taken care of. We are at the end of the line and we have to take care of tough things,” said Riepe.