MARION MINER: Barrage of state bills would undermine human dignity
February 18, 2021
By Marion Miner
For the past few years, the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) has been blessed to work with state senators to enact several laws protecting life and affirming the dignity of the human person.
Pro-life laws newly on the books include LB814 (2020), sponsored by Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln, which bans dismemberment abortion in Nebraska; LB209 (2019), sponsored by Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston, which requires that a mother seeking chemical abortion be given information about where to turn for help if she changes her mind after taking the abortion pill; and a reform of Title X (2018), which stopped the flow of $300,000 per year in taxpayer dollars to the abortion industry.
What readers of the Catholic Voice may not be aware of is the barrage of bad legislation – attacks on life, family and the dignity of the human person – that we have so far successfully defended against at the same time. Those attacks have not slowed down in 2021, as the following bills reveal.
LB20, introduced by Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue, would mandate that all group health insurance plans in Nebraska provide coverage for hormonal contraceptives (most of which also have abortifacient capabilities). LB20 would also use tax dollars to provide such contraceptives via Medicaid.
The bill is reminiscent of the situation created by the federal contraceptive mandate and its attempt to force the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious organizations to provide contraceptives and abortifacients to their employees. The Little Sisters, as you may recall, have been fighting this mandate in federal court for years. LB20 would imitate the federal mandate and put it into Nebraska law.
LB67, introduced by Sen. Jen Day of Millard, would allow contraception providers to serve as school-based health centers, reversing current Nebraska law which forbids it. This bill is a continuation of past efforts by former Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha to pass similar measures.
LB97, introduced by Sen. Wendy DeBoer of Omaha, would allow any two adults, regardless of their marital status (or any relationship at all) to adopt a child together.
LB183, introduced by Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha, would require all hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to administer “emergency contraception” to sexual assault victims. Catholic teaching does not forbid taking contraceptive measures as a form of self-defense against impregnation by a rapist, so long as there is no evidence the woman is not already pregnant.
Since most emergency contraceptives, however, have abortifacient capabilities, it is vital that proper procedures are followed to make sure an embryo is not already in existence before taking them. LB183 does not provide for that nuance and would punish hospitals who do not provide emergency contraception with a $1,000 fine per “offense.”
Sen. Hunt has also introduced LB276, which would legalize “webcam” or “telemed” abortions in the state of Nebraska.
On Jan. 28, the NCC testified against LB357, also introduced by Sen. Hunt, which would create a “Youth in Care Bill of Rights.” Among the “rights” provided for in this confusing bill are ambiguous “health care” entitlements, which could easily be interpreted to include contraception and/or abortion for children in foster care without consent from either biological or foster parents.
Also problematic in the bill is sexual orientation and gender identity language, which might be interpreted to disqualify parents from participation in foster care programs if they do not agree with the “ideologies of gender” currently in fashion and condemned forcefully by Pope Francis.
LB517, also introduced by Sen. Hunt, would allow one to change the sex listed on one’s driver’s license or birth certificate through a quick and easy rubber-stamp process. This has many negative implications, including for girls’ sports. Nebraska requires students to compete according to the sex listed on their birth certificate. A male who wishes to compete “as a girl” could quite easily do so by amending his birth certificate as provided for by this legislation.
Finally, LR20CA, a resolution introduced by Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln, would amend the Nebraska Constitution to strike out its definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Despite the NCC’s opposition, the Judiciary Committee has already moved LR20CA to the full Legislature, where it will be debated sometime later this session.
The NCC will remain strong in its defense of the human person, the family and the common good during this legislative session. Please support us with your prayers and call us with any questions!