Hundreds attend hearing at Nebraska State Capitol for 'heartbeat abortion ban'

Posted at 10:40 PM, Feb 01, 2023

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Just a little over six months ago the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which effectively overturned Roe V Wade, lit a fire under anti-abortion and abortion rights activists alike.

And all these months later, that fire is still burning.

The battle over abortion in Nebraska is coming in the form of a new bill, LB626.

The bill, which supporters call the "Nebraska Heartbeat Act", looks to ban any abortions after cardiac activity is detected in a fetus. A hearing for the bill drew hundreds to the capitol on Wednesday.

“We can protect and empower women, so let's start here in a place where we should all be able to agree. Women deserve support and babies with beating hearts should be protected,” said Senator Joni Albrecht, the introducer of LB626.

LB626 is just one of several bills that have been introduced in the last few years to limit access to abortion.

None of the recent bills have seen much success and opponents of the latest anti-abortion legislation are confident they can prevail again against LB6262.

“We have already defeated an abortion ban in Nebraska … and we will do it again. We will defeat any attempt in this state to put laws on our bodies, to tell us what we can and can’t do with our own reproductive futures. Because the majority of Nebraskans understand that abortion is as extreme as it is unnecessary,” said Senator Megan Hunt of District 8.

Key differences between LB626 and previous legislation that could lead to more success this session.

The first is the makeup of the legislature.

While not filibuster-proof there is a much larger conservative majority in the legislature than in 2022 where a total ban on abortion was defeated by just two votes.

The second is the penalties involved. LB626 limits its penalties to doctors performing abortions and only threatens them with pulling their medical license rather than jail time.

“For any abortionist who violates the Nebraska heartbeat act, they will have their medical license subject to discipline by the Director of Public Health, in consultation with their board of peers. Like any other instance of serious, unprofessional conduct,” said Albrecht.

Despite the concessions to the bill opposition was fierce at the bill’s hearing, and opponents promised they would continue their fight through the entire session.

“What I need you to understand is that today is not the hard day. Today is the beginning. Today is the first day. I need you to come back when we have that bill on the floor. When it's going through the first round of debate, taking that bill 8 hours plus, and wearing everybody out,” said Hunt.

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