Abortion Rights Group Launches Ballot Initiative in Nebraska

After a major victory in Ohio and past victory in deep red Kansas, petitioners in Nebraska are seeking to protect abortion as a constitutional right.

In 2024, Nebraska could be considering whether abortion should be a constitutionally protected right.

On Nov. 16, the abortion rights group Protect Our Rights formally launched a campaign to make Nebraskans consider whether the Cornhusker State will establish a constitutional right to abortion.

“Each person’s circumstances are different, and each pregnancy is unique,” Jasmine Smith, a full spectrum doula from Omaha and a Nebraska maternal health sworn sponsor of Protect Our Rights, said during a press conference announcing the initiative. “That is why it is so critical that decisions about pregnancy and abortion belong to pregnant Nebraskans and not politicians who don’t know anything about their lives and circumstances.”

According to documents from the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office, the proposed ballot measure will read: “All persons shall have a fundamental right to abortion until fetal viability, or when needed to protect the life or health of the pregnant patient, without interference from the state or its political subdivisions. Fetal viability means the point in pregnancy when, in the professional judgment of the patient’s treating health care practitioner, there is a significant likelihood of the fetus’ sustained survival outside of the uterus without the application of extraordinary medical measures.”

The movement comes shortly after the Nebraska Legislature passed a law signed by Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, a Republican, in May 2023 banning all abortions after 12 weeks. The law went into effect in October. The state’s law has exceptions for rape, incest, and medical emergencies.

At the press conference, Andi Curry Grubb, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska, said abortion care is constantly under threat in Nebraska. In the past two years, lawmakers attempted to ban it five times.

Petitions Out Soon

Anti-abortion groups, like the Nebraska Family Alliance, say the measure is vaguely worded, could allow late-term abortions, and will allow girls to get abortions without parental consent.

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In an interview with The Epoch Times, Nebraska Family Alliance Executive Director Karen Bowling called the proposed ballot measure an initiative by Planned Parenthood North Central States and the ACLU of Nebraska.

“It’s an all-out attempt to legalize abortion until birth,” Ms. Bowling said.

Ms. Curry Grubb said she was not surprised to hear abortion opponents “already spreading lies.”

“This is a narrowly tailored right to abortion through fetal viability,” Ms. Curry Grubb said. “The other things being said about what it does are simply untrue.”

Under Nebraska law, Protect Our Rights and its allies will need to collect signatures from 10 percent of the state’s registered voters. Additionally, those signatures need to represent 5 percent of the registered voters in 38 of its 93 counties.

Ms. Bowling estimated about 122,000 validated signatures will be needed by July 2024. If that happens, it will be on the ballot in the November 2024 election.

“What’s happening is they are trying to bypass the legislative process and misinform the general public and so coerce people into not understanding and signing this,” Ms. Bowling said.

Ms. Curry Grubb said petitioners will be in the field as soon as next week.

“I have no doubt that we will succeed in this effort,” Ms. Curry Grubb said. “Together we are going to stop government overreach and give power back to the people.”

 Issue 1 supporters cheer as they watch election results come in in Columbus, Ohio., on Nov. 7, 2023. (Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo)
Issue 1 supporters cheer as they watch election results come in in Columbus, Ohio., on Nov. 7, 2023. (Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo)

National Implications

Nebraska could be one of a handful of states considering similar measures in 2024. Abortion rights groups are buoyed by the success of a high-profile election in Ohio, which will amend the Buckeye State’s constitution to establish a right to abortion. The hot-button topic will likely play a role in the presidential politics of 2024, too.

Ms. Bowling said her group will invest its time and treasure in opposing the measure. This will include print, broadcast, and non-traditional media spending and appearances to discourage signing the petition and, if it comes to it, voting against the measure.

She predicted her organization and its allies wouldn’t be the only spenders. Most of the money that flows into the election will come from out of the state. Principally, the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood as well as their affiliates, will spend heavily, she said.

In Ohio, according to the state fundraising database hosted by watchdog group Open Secrets, more than $54 million was raised to influence public opinion on the abortion ballot measure. About $19.3 million was raised in support, and about $34.7 million was raised in opposition.
In Ohio’s 2023 race, national and local ACLU groups gave more than $2.3 million to support the measure. National and local Planned Parenthood groups raised more than $1.8 million. By comparison, the Virginia-based group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America gave more than $13.3 million, and the Washington-based Concord Fund, which is affiliated with the Judicial Crisis Network, gave $16.9 million.

At the press conference, Protect Our Rights members said they were deeply encouraged by the results in Ohio as well as their polling data. They declined to share polls but said the actual results of the election in Ohio closely matched opinion polls predicting a win for the abortion right amendment.

“We’ve seen time and time again,” Ashlei Spivey, a leader in the group Protect Our Rights and executive director of Omaha advocacy group I Be Black Girl, said. “When you put abortion on the ballot, voters will protect their rights.”

Abortion in Nebraska

Ms. Bowling said there are currently three abortion clinics operating in Nebraska. Most are located less than an hour’s drive away from Omaha. Most of the abortions, she said, occur because women take chemical abortion drugs given to them by doctors or by Planned Parenthood. Chemical procedures are included in the state’s statistics.

According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Nebraska 2022 Statistical Report of Abortions, a total of 2,547 abortions were performed in that year, a decrease from 2,360 the previous year. The average age of the recipient was 26.5.

The reason most often given for the procedure was “no contraception used.” About 59.6 percent of recipients were listed as white and 21.9 percent as black or African American.

About 10 percent of the abortions performed in 2022 occurred after the 12th week of gestation.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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