Nebraska abortion ban lawsuit continued until July 19

The abortion ban bill lawsuit against the State of Nebraska will be continued for another month.
Published: Jun. 12, 2023 at 11:01 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit arguing LB574 is unconstitutional because it combined an abortion ban with a ban on gender-affirming care has been continued for another month.

Lancaster County District Court Judge Lori Maret set aside an hour Monday to hear the arguments about whether the new 12-week abortion ban should be paused or continued.

Planned Parenthood has argued the law is unconstitutional because lawmakers tied it to a bill banning gender-affirming care. But the judge never heard any of it.

“I’m not going to get in the middle of negotiations,” she told both sides during the court hearing Monday morning via Zoom. “The Attorney General’s team wants more time to prepare when it comes to certain objections filed Friday by Planned Parenthood’s legal team.”

A cavalcade of attorneys joined Monday’s hearing. Most were part of the Planned Parenthood/ACLU of Nebraska side. Since the Attorney General’s team objected to certain documents, saying they didn’t have enough time to respond to Friday’s filing, the judge continued the hearing until mid-July, explaining she wants to hear the arguments in one hearing, not two.

“It seems we’re arguing the same things, so why would I want to hear something twice?” Maret said. “It doesn’t seem very efficient to me.”

“‘Public health and welfare’ cannot serve as a single subject linking the two otherwise distinct, narrow components of LB574,” argues the ACLU of Nebraska in court filings.

The Attorney General has argued that lawmakers combine different topics into the same bill all the time and that this is no different. He cautioned the judge that if she throws out this case because of that -- it could imperil all sorts of past legislation as unconstitutional.

“Were this Court to entertain such a challenge, it would result in an unprecedented upheaval of Nebraska’s legislative and judicial branches, potentially calling hundreds of Nebraska laws into constitutional doubt.”

The hearing over Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary injunction will now be July 19. At that point, the abortion ban will have been in place for nearly 2 months. The law banning gender-affirming care for minors takes effect Oct. 1.

Planned Parenthood says the law has already forced nine women to leave the state for abortion services.