'More people are going to turnout': Abortion looms large 8 weeks ahead of Nebraska elections

Posted at 7:59 PM, Sep 12, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The issue of abortion has polarized Nebraska for years. Even more so this year after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a previous decision and sent the issue to the states.

“This is an issue now that state legislatures are going to have to deal with. Most state legislatures didn’t think they’d have to deal with it anytime soon,” said Richard Witmer, a political science professor at Creighton.

Currently, in Nebraska abortion is legal before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

With the possibility of that changing next session, legislative candidates are now being asked more where they stand.

Brad von Gillern, a conservative running in southwest Douglas County said he supports any ban that can garner enough votes. He mentioned bans from six to 12 weeks, as well as exceptions for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

He believes his district leans in favor of more abortion restrictions.

“Basically, I’ll support what saves the most lives that can be saved in the state of Nebraska and I’ll support what we can pass in a legislative body,” said von Gillern.

He said he also supports more services to help the vulnerable.

“It’s not just a pro-birth issue, it’s a pro-life issue. We need to care for the moms and the kids when they grow up. We need to provide for the elderly.”

Through a range of different methods, 3 News Now tracked down the abortion stances of the candidates running in the metro area.

Republicans, in general, seem open to a variety of new restrictions.

Lou Ann Goding, a Republican running in a northwest Omaha race, said they may need to pass some exceptions.

“I’m supportive of efforts to protect life and believe we can do that together incrementally,” said Goding.

Another GOP candidate Christian Mirch — spotted with von Gillern at anti-abortion rallies — said in an email that, if elected, he’d even hold open public forums to hear from his district.

“I understand that my personal beliefs come second to what the majority of my constituents believe is best for our state,” said Mirch.

Mirch also cited studies that he says show how abortions affect women’s mental health and, if abortion is legal, they need more care.

“Especially when there is information to suggest that some abortion practitioners are failing to provide quality follow-up care,” said Mirch.

Almost all registered Democratic candidates want no further restrictions including Michael Young, who is running in northwest Douglas County.

“I’m staying out of their house. I’m staying out of their family and they get to decide in that regard,” said Young.

He is endorsed by Planned Parenthood and said it’s a big issue for his voters.

“It is really interesting to see how that is almost the first question that comes up is, 'Where do you stand?'” said Young.

The question remains: could a potential abortion ban help one side or another win seats in the Nebraska Legislature?

Witmer pointed to a recent referendum in Kansas in which voters rejected a possible ban. He said Democrats are now pushing the issue more and thinks it could bring voters to the polls.

“More people are going to turn out to vote. We’re going to see more women vote, young people vote, so I think that has some potential implications,” said Witmer.

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