A Nebraska Lawmaker Who Previously Supported a 12-week Abortion Ban Now Seeks to Include an Exception in the Legislation

Credits: Nebraska Examiner

Republican Sen. Merv Riepe has introduced a bill that would allow for abortions up to 20 weeks in cases of fatal anomalies, provided at least two physicians confirm that the pre-born child is incompatible with life outside the womb and would die upon birth or inevitably after that.

Riepe expressed regret over failing to pass a similar bill in the last session and described his new legislation as an attempt to correct that mistake.

The bill would add fatal fetal anomalies to the list of exceptions for abortions in Nebraska, which currently include rape, incest, or a serious risk to the pregnant person’s physical health. It also ensures that physicians who perform these abortions would not face criminal penalties.

Nebraska lawmaker (Credits: USA Today)

In the previous session, Riepe abstained from providing a final vote needed to pass a six-week abortion ban after his amendment to extend it to 12 weeks post-fertilization, with an exception for fatal fetal anomalies, was not accepted by his colleagues.

Supporters of the bill shared their personal stories, highlighting the challenges faced by families dealing with fatal fetal anomalies.

Tiffany Palmer, who received an abortion after her child was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, emphasized that abortion can be a healthcare option for those who want a child but are faced with devastating diagnoses.

However, opponents, including pro-life groups and advocates, argued against the bill, sharing their own experiences of losing a child during pregnancy or shortly after birth.

They emphasized the value of every life, no matter how short, and expressed concerns about the accuracy of prenatal diagnoses. Planned Parenthood took a neutral position on the bill, highlighting the importance of ensuring access to abortion services in Nebraska.

The organization has been circulating a petition to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution, citing concerns about patients having to leave the state for abortion care.

The committee has yet to decide whether to advance the bill. Republican Senator Merv Riepe has introduced a bill allowing abortions up to 20 weeks for fatal anomalies, requiring confirmation by two physicians that the pre-born child is incompatible with life outside the womb.

Riepe, acknowledging a prior failure to pass similar legislation, aims to correct this with the new bill. It would add fatal fetal anomalies to the exceptions for abortions in Nebraska, alongside rape, incest, or serious risk to the pregnant person’s physical health, ensuring no criminal penalties for performing these abortions.

Last session, Riepe abstained from a final vote on a six-week abortion ban after his amendment to extend it to 12 weeks with a fatal fetal anomaly exception was not accepted.

Supporters shared stories of abortion after devastating diagnoses, highlighting it as a healthcare option for those wanting a child but facing such challenges.

Opponents, including pro-life groups and advocates, shared experiences of loss, emphasizing the value of every life and concerns over prenatal diagnosis accuracy.

Planned Parenthood, while neutral on the bill, emphasized the importance of abortion access in Nebraska. They have been circulating a petition to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution, citing concerns about patients needing to leave the state for care. The committee is yet to decide on advancing the bill.

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