Gov. Pillen signs 12-week abortion ban, limits on gender-affirming care for minors

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 12:04 PM CDT|Updated: May. 22, 2023 at 2:47 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen signed a bill Monday that bans abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy and restricts gender-affirming medical care for people younger than 19.

“Today is an extraordinary historic day for the State of Nebraska,” Pillen said. “It’s a day where it’s really simple, we’re standing up to protect our kids so that our state has a bigger and brighter future.”

Pillen said LB 574 is the most significant win for the social conservative agenda in over a generation in the state of Nebraska.

LB 574, which includes the Let them Grow Act and the Preborn Child Protection Act, passed its final vote on Friday with 33 ‘yes’ votes and 15 ‘no’ votes.

“It’s really simple, this bill protects our kids, saves babies,” Pillen said.

Abortions will now be banned at 12 weeks gestational age, from the first day of the mother’s last period. The bill includes exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. It does not include any exceptions for fetal anomalies.

Previously, Nebraska law banned abortions after 20 weeks gestation.

“Although LB 626 was unable to pass this year, together we’re able to better protect the woman and children by successfully moving Nebraska’s 20-week law down to 12 weeks,” Senator Joni Albrecht said. “Keeping everything from the original bill except the heartbeat protection.”

Additionally, anyone under 19 will be restricted from having genital or non-genital gender-altering surgeries. There could be restrictions on puberty blockers and hormone therapies but the specifics would be determined by the state’s chief medical officer.

The abortion ban takes effect immediately, while the ban on gender-affirming care takes effect on Oct. 1.

“This bill is just the start, we have a lot more work to do in the state to make sure we’re protecting unborn children, supporting mothers, and letting our children grow and thrive,” Pillen said.

When asked what Pillen’s thoughts were on people in opposition of LB 574 saying the bill violates Nebraska’s single subject rule, Pillen said, “I would say the people that are arguing that need to go back and just study the history. This is not the first time that’s ever happened by a long ways.”

Planned Parenthood’s CEO said although politicians have made their work ‘unnecessarily harder’, they will keep doing everything they can for their patients.

“We are devastated about the cruel and harmful bans signed into law today,” said Ruth Richardson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States. “We will do everything we can to help patients in Nebraska. We will continue offering abortion as allowed in the new law, and we will help patients get connected to the help they need to get to appointments out of state. We are working every day to provide people the health care they need.”

Dr. Elizabeth Weedin at the Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine, said while her clinic doesn’t perform abortions, they do refer patients for abortions, like when there are fetal health anomalies. Weedin said she’s already facing questions.

“At the end of the business day, the last message that I just received from a patient prior to jumping on [Zoom] with you was ‘How will 574 affect me?’” Weedin said. “We may have to send patients out of state, which is really heartbreaking that people making the hardest decision of their lives in a very desired pregnancy would have to go to someone they don’t know for treatment like that.”