Anti-abortion Nebraskans rally in Lincoln for Roe v. Wade decision, next steps

Lincoln protest
Posted at 5:53 PM, Jun 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-25 18:53:51-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) — Longtime leaders in Nebraska’s anti-abortion movement gathered Saturday to celebrate Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that several described as the end of the beginning of their efforts to make abortion illegal in Nebraska.

Former Gov. Kay Orr and Lt. Gov. Mike Foley joined a morning rally at the Nebraska Republican Party headquarters that drew about 100 people. Two hours later, 50 people attended a  Students for Life rally on the State Capitol steps to support the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

“I’ve been involved in the pro-life movement for over 40 years, and over all those years, I always knew that we would get to this day,” Foley said. “I didn’t know that I would live to see the day, but we did. God works in mysterious ways.”

Attendees pushed back against local abortion-rights groups who have said that a majority of Nebraskans support keeping abortion legal and safe, based on polling shared publicly by the Nebraska Democratic Party and Democratic-leaning organizations. 

As many as 1,500 people protested the Roe decision in Omaha and hundreds more rallied Lincoln on Friday. The court ruling sent the decision on abortion back to lawmakers, including Nebraska’s. Gov. Pete Ricketts and legislative leaders are mulling a special session on further restricting abortion. Under current Nebraska law, abortion is legal up to 20 weeks after fertilization.

The state GOP rally also aimed to draw more attention toward Tuesday’s special election in the Lincoln-centered 1st Congressional District. Republican State Sen. Mike Flood and Democratic Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks are squaring to fill former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s seat through the end of the year.

Orr, Foley and State Sens. Julie Slama of Dunbar and Suzanne Geist of Lincoln talked about Flood’s anti-abortion record, including passage of a bill that banned abortions in Nebraska after 20 weeks. They spoke of his support for a total ban.

“We have this opportunity now to speak to people about supporting the life of the unborn child,” Orr said, encouraging GOP activists preparing to campaign door-to-door for Flood. “But I ask all the Nebraskans who pick up that mantle to do that and do so with grace, love, kindness, gentleness.”

Foley contrasted Flood’s stand on abortion with that of Pansing Brooks. On policy, Foley said, Pansing Brooks is wrong. She supports abortion rights and helped Democrats filibuster Republican efforts this past session to pass a preemptive ban.

Pansing Brooks has argued the Roe decision threatens women’s bodily autonomy.

Flood, who spoke at both rallies Saturday, told the students at the Capitol group they were the first generation who grew up knowing what a child developing in the womb looks like, because of ultrasound technology. He said they understand what they see: “a baby.”

“What happened in 1972 is wrong,” he said, holding a megaphone microphone. “But your generation is the generation of life.”

Lincoln twins Bridget and Cecilia Nickman, 17, said they came to the student rally because they enjoy being around people who believe as they do that abortion is wrong. 

“It just means a lot, because I think the mainstream media can make it really easy to feel like you’re alone in this,” Bridget said. “It seems like everything’s saying that they’re taking away a woman’s fundamental right.”

For James Sykes of Lincoln, 21, fighting abortion is personal. He said doctors told  his mother she had to have an abortion at the age of 18 because of medical complications.

He said she went through with it, only to find out a few weeks later that she had not needed to abort her pregnancy after all. 

“That sort of destroyed her,” Sykes said. “That’s become a motivator for not only her, but myself as well.”

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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