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Pro-life advocate Rebekah Buell Hagan, right, tours an Essential Pregnancy Services (EPS) facility in Omaha while in Nebraska Jan. 11 to support new pro-life legislation at the state capitol in Lincoln later that day. Erika Choquette, a nurse at EPS, explains the facility’s ultrasound equipment used to give pregnant women a glimpse of their unborn children. The machine was donated by the Nebraska Knights of Columbus Culture of Life Foundation, largely through donations to the annual One Rose-One Life campaign. MIKE MAY/STAFF

Legislation would expand ability to choose

Nebraska State Senator Joni Albrecht, District 17, introduced legislation in the Unicameral Jan. 11 that is both pro-life and “pro-choice.”

LB209 would expand the state’s informed consent law to include information about an available treatment to reverse the effects of the abortion pill, or medication abortion.

During a news conference that day at the capitol Albrecht said, “I’m proud to introduce a pro-woman, pro-information, pro-life and pro-choice bill that will benefit all women who, after beginning the abortion pill process, want a second chance at choice.”

One such woman is Rebekah Buell Hagan of Roseville, Calif., who also spoke at the news conference, sharing her story of beginning the abortion pill process and immediately regretting her decision.

“By the time I walked to my car (after taking the first of two pills that make up the process), I felt the kind of grief that can only be described as a mother grieving the loss of her very wanted child,” she said.

Turning to the internet, Buell Hagan found information about abortion pill reversal and how to begin the process. Her son was saved and is now 5; she now shares her pro-life story around the country.

LB209 is one of at least three initiatives the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) will be supporting during this legislative session, said Tom Venzor, executive director of the group that represents Catholic interests in the public square at the state level.

Use of the abortion pill has grown tremendously in recent years, he said, increasing from less than 5 percent of all Nebraska abortions in 2005 to 55 percent last year.

The current informed consent framework includes requirements that a woman seeking an abortion be offered the opportunity to view an ultrasound, to know the risks of abortion and of carrying the pregnancy to term, to know that she can’t be coerced into an abortion and that the father would be responsible for child support, Venzor said.

“This act would require that an abortionist must also let a mother know up front, that if she’s going in for a medication abortion, that between the first pill and the second pill, it is possible, if she changes her mind, that she can reverse the effects of that first pill, and that if she does make that decision, that time is of the essence,” he said.

“To flip the argument of the pro-choicers,” Venzor said, “if you’re truly pro-choice then wouldn’t you want to give the mother every opportunity to make the right choice for her?”

“It’s too early to tell what the chances are for the bill’s passage,” he said, “but we will work with tremendous vigor to get this legislation passed.”

The NCC also will support another bill that would give tax credits for private donations to scholarship-granting nonprofit organizations helping low-income and working-class children attend private or parochial K-12 schools.

Venzor said Senator Lou Ann Linehan, District 39, is expected to sponsor the bill. 

Introduced several times since the 2009-10 Legislature, the bill failed to make it out of committee for floor debate until last year when LB295, the Children’s Scholarship Tax Credit bill, advanced to floor debate where it met a successful filibuster.

And the governor on Jan. 15 presented his 2019-21 biennial budget, including a restriction on federal Title X funds going to organizations that provide or refer for abortions, a measure the NCC also supports, Venzor said.

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