Nebraska state senator Joni Albrecht has once again attempted to ban abortion in Nebraska. My state representative, Brian Hardin, supports the bill. Many doctors in the state oppose the bill. The legislature is taking comments from constituents until Tuesday, January 31, 2023, at 12 p.m., Central Time, 11 a.m., Mountain Time.
Below is my 500-word comment I submitted. I am still working on a much longer letter to Hardin. If the bill passes out of committee, it will be debated on the floor before a vote. Needless to say, I am incredibly angry at such an asinine bill, which is a thinly-veiled christian attempt to outlaw abortion.
Abortion should be a matter of health care decided between a pregnant person and their doctor. No one else should ever be involved.
I am writing to express my opposition to LB626, a bill to ban all abortions at six weeks of pregnancy. Many who need abortion care are not even aware they are pregnant at this point in time, which is only two weeks after a missed period. On the chance they do know, there are many obstacles to accessing care, particularly in western Nebraska, where there are no facilities available for abortion care. If the pregnant person can travel, there is the issue of appointment availability, long travel times, missed work, plus mandatory 24-hour waiting periods, scans, and other restrictions, which already exist under current law.
One only needs to look across the nation to see how such extreme bans have endangered the lives of women via complications put into place with such bans. Many have been denied care or forced to delay essential health care, sometimes, to the point of near death.
Backers of LB626 have attempted to assure Nebraskans this legislation allows for abortion care for survivors of sexual assault, incest, and medical emergencies, however, there is still no effective care in most communities throughout Nebraska. In most cases, pregnant Nebraskans must wait until their life is at risk or face additional trauma of disclosing they are a survivor of rape or incest.
These decisions are deeply personal and should be a subject of consideration between the pregnant person and their doctor. As survivor myself, I did not know I was pregnant until well past six weeks and was so ill I was placed in the hospital. I was 14 years old. Survivors are in the minority of pregnant Nebraskans, but they should be allowed to disclose the situation and receive care in their own time, not by an arbitrary date set forth by politicians.
This extreme abortion ban will also see and increase in the already severe maternal mortality crisis of Black women and other people of color because of a lack of access to health care, structural racism, and discrimination within our health care system. Younger Nebraskans, who are already struggling financially, as well as under age Nebraskans, will find few options to assist them.
LB626 attempts to assuage concerned Nebraskans by saying there is a plan to support pregnant Nebraskans with LB606, which will incentivize donations to “crisis pregnancy centers,” which, according to a 2022 study, have been shown to be repeatedly problematic, including Options Pregnancy Center in Scottsbluff. They provide false, misleading and medically inaccurate information and are not bound by HIPAA, yet the legislature seems to be fine with crossing the state/religion boundaries by setting these faith-based, religiously-affiliated organizations up to receive taxpayer dollars for their disingenuous work.
The best way to reduce abortions is through comprehensive sexual education, which religious entities in Nebraska have fought to prevent. The limits on abortion in Nebraska are already strict, making abortion difficult to obtain. There’s no need to introduce additional hardships upon pregnant Nebraskans. I urge the committee to indefinitely table LB626.
If you live in Nebraska and would like to have your voice heard, please feel free to swipe whatever you need from my comments to get yourself started. Then, go to the Nebraska Legislature website and submit your comment.
A powerful statement, Irene. Thank you for standing up for all of us; we need to do this state by state. It might feel like we’re fighting a losing battle to the politicians, but I won’t concede and I know you won’t either.
I will never concede. We have to keep fighting. The extreme religious right do not speak for the majority of Americans, nor for the majority of Nebraskans. We can’t stop fighting.