LINCOLN, Nebraska, May 13, 2011 ( – Nebraska saw a positive week for the pro-life cause, with the passage of a bill that bans abortion funding in the health insurance exchanges set up by the national health care reform law, and the advance of a telemed abortion ban.

With the passage of Legislative Bill 22 on Thursday, Nebraska joined numerous other states to use the “opt-out” clause of the new national health care reform law, which allows states to choose not to allow abortion funding abortion in the health care exchanges.  LB 22 was approved in a 37-7 vote yesterday and will now go to Governor Dave Heineman. 

“The passage by the Nebraska Legislature of LB 22 reflects the pro-life nature of the State,” said Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life.  “National Right to Life’s language in LB 22 dictates that all insurance policies, both public and private, do not provide coverage for the deaths of unborn children.”

The bill, sponsored and prioritized by State Senator Beau McCoy, not only prohibits the forthcoming state exchanges from covering abortion, but also any private insurance companies from providing abortion coverage unless the payer has a separate insurance rider for abortion.

“I believe strongly that Nebraskans who object to abortion should not be forced to pay for it with their tax dollars or their premiums,” McCoy told National Right-to-Life News.

He said his “priority designation ensured that this important legislation would pass this session and reinforce the message that Nebraskans do not consider abortion to be healthcare.”

Meanwhile, another important piece of legislation, the Stop Web Cams Abortion Bill, was advanced by lawmakers in a 34-9 vote on Tuesday.  Legislative Bill 521 would effectively ban the use of remote webcams to administer abortion drugs. 

Proposed by Lincoln Senator Tony Fulton, LB 521 is a preventative measure to ensure that Planned Parenthood’s telemed abortion system in Iowa is not expanded to Nebraska.  With the telemed system, women seeking an abortion are able to obtain a prescription merely through a webcam conversation with a doctor in a remote location.  The system denies the woman personal consultation, as well as follow-up.

Recently Planned Parenthood announced plans to expand business in Nebraska to serve more rural areas, a move thought to be designed to accommodate the telemed system.  Supporters of LB 521 maintain the bill is necessary to ensure telemed abortions do not take place in Nebraska.

The bill is “necessary because the abortion industry is changing,” Senator Fulton said. “Our laws need to reflect this changing reality to continue to ensure public safety.”

Fulton’s bill provides for “how certain drugs used to induce abortions shall be administered” and “follow-up medical examinations and recordkeeping as prescribed.”  In addition, the bill would make webcam or telemed abortion consultation a felony.

The bill still requires two more votes before being sent to Governor Dave Heineman to sign into law.