Nebraska Legislature takes anti-abortion bill over finish line

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A bill that would stop D&E abortion procedures on a living fetus passed the last legislative hurtle Thursday. 

It will go to Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is expected to sign it into law. 

The bill (LB814) was stuck in committee after its hearing in February, and Lincoln Sen. Suzanne Geist, who introduced it, successfully moved to pull it from committee so it could be debated. Because of that, it came to the floor with no committee work or amendments, and so was passed as it was originally introduced. 

Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt, who led filibusters against the bill on all three levels of debate, continued to say the bill was given special treatment by Speaker Jim Scheer in scheduling. And she said Lt. Gov. Mike Foley, who presides over the Legislature and is an outspoken supporter of the bill, was allowed to run legislative strategy on it from the president’s chair. 

Hunt said that at a Nebraska Family Alliance Forum in Grand Island to discuss anti-abortion strategy for Nebraska, Foley told senators and advocates that Hunt had extreme views on the life issue. Hunt reported that Foley said legislation she had introduced was going nowhere, and they shouldn’t spend energy worrying about her “silly, little bill.”

LB814 is a model of anti-abortion bills that have been introduced in at least 31 other states, Hunt said.

“Bills like this are written poorly on purpose,” she said. “They have problems with the language on purpose.”

There’s no exception for rape and incest in the bill. There’s no cause of action for an unmarried father. The injunctive relief section is messed up, she said. 

These bills are used as purity tests for moderates, she said. They are used to put pressure on lawmakers who are often anti-abortion but are thoughtful about language and policy. 

Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue, who supported the bill but insisted it needed work, was one of those. And she was angry, she said, because the bill is poorly written and will cause unintended problems. 

“This bill fails to ban the actual dismemberment process,” she said. “I am not going to perpetuate a lie.”

Geist said she had not been allowed to open on her bill. And she did file compromise amendments she worked on with Blood, but she was never allowed to introduce them because of all the motions thrown onto it.  

“I stand by the veracity of this bill. It’s well written. The people that wrote this bill know what they are doing,” she said. “You can tell me it’s unconstitutional. I don’t believe that.”

The inhumanity of pulling apart a fetus before causing its demise is what this bill is about, she said. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature

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