Living Mercy

Abortion ballot initiative expected to be a battle, with every person’s help needed

In 2023 participants at the Nebraska Walk for Life were celebrating the victory of a lifetime: the overturning of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which had legalized abortion in all 50 states.

This year at the walk, participants were gearing up for a battle.

Speaker after speaker at a rally before the Jan. 27 walk in Lincoln warned about a ballot initiative that would make abortion a constitutional right in Nebraska. The referendum, which voters could decide on in November, has the potential to wipe out current limits on abortion – and decades of pro-life work.

“Nebraska is a pro-life state,” said U.S. Sen. and former Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. The day Roe v. Wade was overturned was a great day, he said, “but we know we have work to do.”

Seven states have had similar ballot initiatives, and those measures have all succeeded, he pointed out, but a line needs to be drawn in Nebraska.

U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts participates in the Walk for Life in Lincoln on Jan. 27

Nebraska needs to “set the tone for the rest of the nation,” Ricketts said. It will be a battle fought with large sums of money by proponents of abortion rights, he said, versus the sweat, spirit and toil of pro-life Nebraskans. 

The “forces of Planned Parenthood” will be in the state through election day, so get involved, he urged, by posting signs, knocking on doors and educating friends and co-workers.

Nebraskans are facing an extreme abortion measure, said Tom Venzor, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC), “and every one of us will be needed” to stop it. 

Venzor, speaking to the congregation at a Mass preceding the walk, encouraged people to join NCC’s Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska to stay updated and act when needed.


Tom Venzor, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC), addresses those gathered for Mass at St. Mary Church in Lincoln. The NCC hosted the Mass that was offered before the Nebraska Walk for Life.

If the ballot initiative succeeds, the results would be devastating, said Sandy Danek, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, which organized the Walk for Life.

People need to commit to prayer and become informed on the ballot drive to help push back, she said, because the language for the proposed measure is vague and deceptive and will confuse voters.

For example, Danek said, the definition of fetal viability is not a precise one but is left to the discretion of the abortionist.

Sandy Danek, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, speaks at the 2022 Nebraska Walk for Life.

She asked people to provide their emails to her organization, not for donations, but to allow Nebraska Right to Life to give them the facts and messaging they will need  to expose and counter the deception.

 Those pushing for the abortion initiative “will inundate us this summer,” Danek said, and they “won’t be Nebraskans or from the state.”

“We have to win the ballot,” Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen said. “We have to do everything we can to protect babies.”

Don’t be fooled by false arguments, he said. The proposal is not about in vitro fertilization or ectopic pregnancies but about “saving as many babies as possible.”

Abortion with no exceptions is the policy in places like China, Iran and North Korea, U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer said. “That’s not who we are as Nebraskans, and that’s not who we are as Americans.”

The values Nebraskans hold dear include a love for babies, mothers and families, she said. “That’s who we are as Nebraskans.”


Recently the pro-life movement has had considerable victories, including the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade; and in Nebraska, the Legislature limiting abortion after 12 weeks of gestation.

But with the ballot initiative being pushed in Nebraska and other states, “clearly all is not done,” said Msgr. Thomas Fucinaro, pastor at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln, who delivered the homily at the Mass before the Walk for Life.

Archbishop George J. Lucas was the main celebrant for the Mass, hosted by the Nebraska Catholic Conference. Concelebrants included Bishops James D. Conley of Lincoln and Joseph G. Hanefeldt of Grand Island.

The pro-life goal is to make abortion unthinkable, Msgr. Fucinaro said, but “how do we get to unthinkable?”

“Our faith is in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,” he said, and only through Him will hearts and minds be changed.

Msgr. Thomas Fucinaro speaks about making abortion unthinkable during his homily.

Hardened hearts need to be softened by Divine Mercy, and for pro-lifers that means going out to the “darkest corners of the world,” he said, restoring hearts one by one – of both victims and perpetrators of abortion – with the compassion of Jesus.

That work can only be done with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Msgr. Fucinaro said.

 The gift of counsel will help in difficult moments, in addressing misplaced rage and finding a word of peace and conversion.

The gift of fear of the Lord will help pro-life Catholics see beyond their own weaknesses and failings and to find out what’s lacking in Christ’s afflictions, Msgr. Fucinaro said, referring to St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians.

He urged everyone at the Mass to pray in reparation, offering their prayers, works, joys and sufferings on the paten with Christ.

Pink and blue balloons are released outside the State Capitol as the Nebraska Walk for Life is about to begin. The balloon release commemorates the lives lost to abortion.


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