Abortion rights backers block ‘trigger’ law in Nebraska

Apr 7, 2022, 10:44 AM | Updated: 10:49 pm

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Abortion rights proponents scored a surprising victory in Nebraska by derailing a bill that would have automatically outlawed abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturns its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized the procedure throughout the country.

The vote on Wednesday frustrated abortion rights opponents, who usually win fights over the issue in the conservative Legislature. More than a dozen other conservative states have passed similar measures already, but abortion rights backers in Nebraska managed to block it using a filibuster in the single-chamber Legislature.

The bill’s supporters fell two votes short of the 33 they needed to end the filibuster and force a vote. The 31-15 vote left the proposal essentially dead for the rest of the year, even though a majority of lawmakers supported it. The vote largely fell along party lines in the ostensibly nonpartisan Legislature.

In 2010, Nebraska became the first state to ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, and the state outlawed a second-trimester abortion procedure in 2020 despite fervent protests from abortion rights supporters.

The latest bill, however, faced a tougher path because of the current makeup of the Legislature, where Republicans are one seat short of the supermajority needed to overcome filibusters. One Republican and Democrat each crossed party lines, effectively canceling the other’s vote. One Republican and two Democrats were absent.

Supporters argued that the majority of Nebraska voters oppose abortion, based on who the state consistently elects.

“We envision a Nebraska where every life is celebrated and protected,” said state Sen. Joni Albrecht, the bill’s sponsor.

Opponents assailed it as an intrusion on women’s autonomy and vowed not to budge in their opposition.

“In state by state, legislatures are taking a sledgehammer to women’s freedom,” said state Sen. Anna Wishart, of Lincoln.

The debate turned personal at times, with abortion rights supporters railing against the bill’s backers for supporting it even though it doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest.

“Proponents of this bill have no shame left,” said state Sen. Megan Hunt, of Omaha, adding that she was offended as both a mother and a sexual assault survivor. “I will cherish the time that I have worked here forever, but when I am term limited (out of office), I will probably not talk to most of you ever again.”

The debate came ahead of an expected June ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which concerns a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Both sides have told the court there’s no middle ground in the case. In anticipation of the ruling, 13 states have passed so-called trigger laws to automatically ban abortions if the court sides with abortion opponents. Ohio and Oklahoma approved their trigger laws last year.

On Thursday, Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, filed a lawsuit asking a court to recognize the right to get an abortion under the state constitution and to overturn the state’s 176-year-old ban, which might take effect again if Roe v. Wade ruling is vacated.

The Roe v. Wade ruling allows states to regulate but not ban abortions up to the point of fetal viability, which is around the 24th week of a pregnancy. Justices reaffirmed the decision in 1992.

The Nebraska vote drew promises of political retribution against some elected officials. Jim Pillen, a top Republican candidate for governor, said Thursday that he would work to unseat some lawmakers who are up for reelection and who voted to block the bill.

“Last night, the Legislature failed the people of Nebraska in voting to keep abortion legal,” Pillen said. “Abortion is murder, and as a pro-life state, the majority of Nebraskans realize we need to outlaw it.”

___

Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - The logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is seen outside of...

Associated Press

Saudi Arabia reducing global oil supply, could spell higher prices for US drivers

Saudi Arabia will reduce how much oil it sends to the global economy, taking a unilateral step to prop up the sagging price of crude.

2 days ago

This photo provided by Robert Wilkes, owner of a house boat management company, shows smoke rising ...

Associated Press

Houseboats catch fire while docked at Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell

More than half a dozen house boats momentarily caught fire at a popular boating destination on the Utah-Arizona line on Friday.

4 days ago

File - Women work in a restaurant kitchen in Chicago, Thursday, March 23, 2023. On Friday, the U.S....

Associated Press

US hiring, unemployment jump in May and what that says about the economy

The nation’s employers stepped up their hiring in May, adding a robust 339,000 jobs, well above expectations.

4 days ago

(Pixabay Photo)...

Associated Press

Oath Keeper from Arizona sentenced for role in Jan. 6 riot at US Capitol

Edward Vallejo, a U.S. Army veteran from Phoenix, oversaw a “Quick Reaction Force” at a Virginia hotel that was prepared to deploy an arsenal of weapons into Washington if needed, authorities say.

5 days ago

FILE - U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz listens during a news conference, Jan. 5, 2023, in Washi...

Associated Press

US Border Patrol chief is retiring after seeing through end of Title 42 immigration restrictions

The head of the U.S. Border Patrol announced Tuesday that he was retiring, after seeing through a major policy shift that seeks to clamp down on illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border following the end of Title 42 pandemic restrictions.

6 days ago

FILE - President Joe Biden talks with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., on the House steps as...

Associated Press

House OKs debt ceiling bill to avoid default, sends Biden-McCarthy deal to Senate

The House approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package late Wednesday, as President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy assembled a bipartisan coalition of centrist Democrats and Republicans against fierce conservative blowback and progressive dissent.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DAY & NIGHT AIR CONDITIONING, HEATING AND PLUMBING

Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]

...

OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

How to identify the symptoms of 3 common anxiety disorders

Living with an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and cause significant stress for those who suffer from the condition.

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...

Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.

Abortion rights backers block ‘trigger’ law in Nebraska