Abortion amendment called ‘fundamental attack on human life’ in Nebraska
November 15, 2023
Pro-abortion groups want voters to enshrine a right to abortion until birth in the Nebraska constitution, according to proposed language released Wednesday for a possible 2024 ballot initiative.
The text of the amendment put forth by Protect Our Rights Nebraska seeks to guarantee 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.”
Protect Our Rights Nebraska, which is led by Planned Parenthood affiliates and ACLU Nebraska among other groups, filed the ballot initiative with the state Oct. 31. The ballot measure they propose closely mirrors a constitutional amendment approved by voters in Ohio on Nov. 7.
The group must collect about 122,000 signatures from registered voters across the state to get the initiative onto the 2024 ballot. Pro-life groups in the state believe the petition drive may succeed in its collection efforts.
Tom Venzor, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, which advocates for the Church in the public square, said the initiative would wipe out protections for preborn babies in Nebraska if enacted by voters.
“This proposal is a fundamental attack on human life and should be categorically rejected by Nebraskans,” he said, calling it abortion-on-demand, up until birth.
Venzor implored Catholics in the state to decline to sign the petitions the abortion-supporting group will begin circulating beginning Nov. 16.
He also asked people to help fight this extreme abortion initiative by joining the conference’s action network and encouraging their friends and family to do the same.
The measure would undo Nebraska’s law protecting babies from abortion after 12 weeks gestation and providing exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, Venzor said. The initiative would also eliminate laws protecting babies from dismemberment abortion, providing informed consent to mothers about abortion pill reversal and protecting babies who research shows can feel and react to pain.
The Catholic Church since the first century has consistently taught that abortion – the direct killing of a child in the womb – is a moral evil and an abominable crime, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Civil society must uphold the inalienable right to life, which protects a human person from conception to natural death, the catechism states.
The abortion measure’s proponents define fetal viability in the proposed amendment as “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 the uterus without the application of extraordinary medical measures.”
They do not include a timeframe in fetal development in the proposed amendment, and that language allows second- and third-trimester abortions at the discretion of the abortionist, who could deem a baby needing a short stay in the NICU as nonviable, Venzor said.
As written, the amendment would also allow for abortions at any stage of pregnancy if it jeopardizes the health of the mother, which courts have interpreted as broadly as a negative impact to physical, emotional, psychological, familial or financial health, he said.
In overturning Roe v. Wade in June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision ruled that fetal viability protections have been fraught with problems as the legal standard governing abortion because they depend heavily on factors that have nothing to do with the characteristics of the child.
Last spring during the first legislative session since the Dobbs case, Nebraska lawmakers enacted the state’s most significant abortion restrictions in over a decade – banning abortion after 12 weeks’ gestation.Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen signed the bill into law on May 19, and the abortion ban became effective immediately. It was expected to save hundreds of lives annually based on historical abortion trends in the state. A previous attempt during the legislative session to ban abortion upon detection of a baby’s heartbeat, around 6 weeks of gestation, was narrowly defeated by a filibuster.
Following the Dobbs decision, abortionists in Nebraska performed the most abortions since 2009, ending the lives of 2,507 babies, according to records from the state. Changing laws on abortion in other states led to a 6% increase in Nebraska, which at the time allowed for abortion until 20 weeks. The number of women traveling from Kansas and Missouri to Nebraska that year for abortions jumped 640% from 2021, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ data on abortions.
If the ballot initiative succeeds, Nebraska would join Colorado as having the most permissive abortion laws in the region, according to data from the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights.
“Pray and fast for us and our home state,” Venzor said. “Please keep watch and be prepared to do your part.”
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