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.


American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incid...

Associated Press

American Airlines CEO calls removal of Black passengers from Phoenix flight ‘unacceptable’

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix.

2 days ago

FILE - Crystal Baziel holds the Pan-African flag Monday, June 19, 2023, during Reedy Chapel A.M.E C...

Associated Press

The beginner’s guide to celebrating Juneteenth

For more than one-and-a-half centuries, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities. It marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Since it was designated a federal […]

3 days ago

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

8 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

9 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

11 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

15 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Abortion rights backers block ‘trigger’ law in Nebraska