LINCOLN (LifeSiteNews) – The Nebraska State Senate voted 33-16 Wednesday to advance a bill banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, making good on a pledge to build on pro-life gains in last fall’s midterm elections.
LB 626, the Nebraska Heartbeat Act, requires abortionists to first test for a fetal heartbeat, which is generally detectable at six weeks, and forbids abortion if one is found, except in cases of rape, incest, or medical emergencies. Violators would be punished by loss of their medical license.
While last fall’s midterms were disappointing for many Republicans across the country, in Nebraska, lawmakers who oppose abortion expanded to a 33-seat majority in the state’s unicameral legislature, rendering pro-life legislation no longer susceptible to filibusters, which had previously stymied efforts to limit abortion to 12 weeks. Abortion is currently legal up to 20 weeks.
Tuesday’s vote advances LB 626 to a second round of debate, KETV reports, thanks to the support of 32 Republicans and one Democrat, state Sen. Mike McDonnell. It is expected to ultimately be signed into law.
“The most important time and privilege for me as your governor is that we get this across the finish line, and today is the start,” said Republican Gov. Jim Pillen, who was elected in November.
“LB626 is common sense, life-affirming legislation,” said Republican state Sen. Carolyn Bosn, whom Pillen recently appointed to fill a vacancy left by Suzanne Geist, at a press conference in support of the measure. “It makes sense to me not only as a former prosecutor but also as a mother who has cherished hearing the heartbeat of my children during ultrasounds. I look forward this evening to joining my colleagues in supporting LB626 and protecting babies with beating hearts.”
“I want to thank everyone who’s standing here today and all of the Nebraskans who have been praying for the last 50 years for these babies with beating hearts to be saved,” added Republican state Sen. Joni Albrecht, who introduced the bill. “We’re going to protect those babies with beating hearts, and this is a monumental day in the State of Nebraska!”
The bill includes no abortion restrictions for babies prior to them developing a detectable heartbeat.
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last June overturning Roe v. Wade and restoring states’ full ability to directly ban abortion, Planned Parenthood has suspended abortions and/or closed locations across the country, and pro-life attorneys general have declared their intentions to enforce their states’ duly enacted abortion prohibitions.
But leftists prosecutors in various localities have vowed not to enforce such laws, and pro-abortion activists have pursued a number of strategies to preserve abortion “access,” with legal protection and financial support of interstate abortion travel being one of their chief strategies. Others have included attempting to enshrine “rights” to the practice in state constitutions, effectively insulating it from ordinary state legislation, as well as supporting interstate distribution of abortion pills and attempting to construct new abortion facilities near borders shared by pro-life and pro-abortion states.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has called on Congress to codify a “right” to abortion in federal law, which would not only restore but expand the Roe status quo by making it illegal for states to pass virtually any pro-life laws. Democrats currently lack the votes to do so, but whether they get those votes is sure to be one of the major issues of the 2024 elections.