Tuesday April 13, 2010

Updated: Nebraska Enacts Landmark Abortion Health Screening Law

Law directly criticizes Roe v. Wade for “removing the protection afforded the unborn.”

By Peter J. Smith

Updated 5:49pm EST

OMAHA, Nebraska, April 13, 2010 ( – Nebraska lawmakers have enacted landmark legislation that requires abortionists to prescreen thoroughly women seeking an abortion for potential physical and mental health problems, or face civil lawsuits from women harmed by their failure to obey the law.

Nebraska Senators voted Monday to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (LB 594) on the third reading of the bill by a 40-9 vote. The bill was then sent to the desk of Gov. Dave Heineman, who today signed the historic measure into law along with another historic pro-life bill banning abortion after 20 weeks on the basis of fetal pain. (see coverage here.)

Sen. Cap Dierks of Ewing, the bill’s main sponsor, argued the legislation was necessary to ensure that abortion facilities were following the same standards of care as other medical procedures and to guarantee that women were making a truly free and informed decision without outside pressure or coercion before consenting to an abortion.

Pro-life leaders and post-abortive women with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign praised Nebraska lawmakers for enacting these new legal protections for women against abortionists.

“Women like me only wish that a law like the Women’s Health Protection Act had been in place before we had abortions,” said Georgette Forney, co-founder of the SNMAC in a statement. “The women of Silent No More know that the risks of abortion are all too real and that the pressures from fearful boyfriends, embarrassed parents, and demanding employers can render the word ‘choice’ meaningless.

“The Nebraska legislature has done immeasurable good by passing this legislation.”

The law mandates that abortionists tell a woman 24 hours in advance of abortion all the risks associated with abortion, that no one can make her have an abortion, and that she can withdraw her consent at any time.

In addition, the new law requires that at least one hour before the abortion a qualified physician or mental health professional perform an assessment to determine whether the pregnant woman “perceived” she was being pressured into having the abortion, and evaluate the “physical, psychological, emotional, demographic, or situational” risk factors cited by peer-reviewed medical journals.

They would then have to write down a checklist of negative and positive risk factors, discuss them with the woman, and submit them in writing to the abortionist performing the procedure.

Women would have to sign a document stating that they went through the screening and have been fully informed of any risks noted by the screening medical professional before going through with the abortion.

The legislation makes repeated criticisms of the U.S. Supreme Court for its Roe v. Wade decision, explaining that the legislation is a response to “the legislative intrusion of the United States Supreme Court … removing the protection afforded the unborn,” and that if they had the power to do so, they would do more.

It adds that the law is “in no way to be construed as legislatively encouraging abortions at any stage of unborn human development, but are rather an expression of the will of the people of the State of Nebraska and the members of the Legislature to provide protection for the life of the unborn child whenever possible.”

Ann Marie Bowen, president of Nebraskans United for Life (NUL) told that the original legislation “was intended to have a 24-hour waiting for the screening of these possibilities” of health complications, before it was amended on the floor to a one hour wait.

“That is, I think, one disappointment in the law,” Bowen said.

However she said NUL is overall pleased with the passage of the law for giving more protections to abortion-bound women, whose decisions could be effected by abortionists failing to screen properly for mental or physical health complications that may arise from the procedure.

“We believe that this is a protection for her, and she will have every right to go to court, and take the abortionist to court if she should suffer because of the lack of screening and lack of care for the woman.”

See related coverage by

Nebraska Advances Bill Requiring Mental Health Screenings Before Abortion

Nebraska Moves Ahead with Abortion Ban Based on Fetal Pain