Campaign to get abortion rights on 2024 Nebraska ballot to launch Thursday

LB 574 already passed through the state legislature, but the fight for abortion rights in Nebraska is far from over.
Petition organizers with Protect Our Rights could be on the streets of Omaha and the rest of Nebraska as early as next week, collecting signatures for reproductive rights.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 8:29 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Abortion rights protection could be on Nebraska’s 2024 election ballot as organizers released the language that will be included on petitions Wednesday.

Part of the petition states that “all persons shall have a fundamental right to abortion until fetal viability,” without interference from the state.

Fetal viability is defined in the petition as “the point in pregnancy when there is a significant likelihood of the fetus’s sustained survival outside the uterus without extraordinary measures.”

Last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, large protests erupted in Omaha.

Petition organizers with Protect Our Rights could be on the streets of Omaha and the rest of Nebraska as early as next week, collecting signatures for reproductive rights.

They’re trying to collect 125,000 signatures in 36 counties by next summer in order to get the issues of protecting abortion rights on the ballot.

“After our big launch tomorrow, we’ll be out in the community talking about the campaign and educating voters and getting them to sign the petition,” said Ashlei Spivey with Protect Our Rights. “We’re just excited to connect with folks all across Nebraska.”

Petition opponents believe the language of what fetal viability means is too vague.

“The problem with assigning it to a viability issue is the same problem we had with Roe v. Wade,” said Sandy Danek with Nebraska Right to Life, a pro-life organization. “When you say health, it’s so broadly defined. It could mean I’m too old, I’m too young, I’m not financially prepared. It could mean anything.”

Spivey cites variance in pregnancies from woman to woman as the reason for the language to be written how it is on the petition.

“Every pregnancy is so different,” Spivey said. “The scenario, what the diagnosis might be... So we really created a language that allows for that pregnant person to determine that with the appropriate medical professional.”

This year, the Nebraska Legislature changed access to abortions, moving from a 20-week ban to a 12-week ban. A 6-week ban has even been on the table.

According to the most recent state data, 86 percent of Nebraska abortions fell under the 12-week ban.

“We are up against a tremendous challenge where we’ve seen other states that the money is abundant for the opposition, and less so for us,” Danek said.

Protect Our Rights will officials launch its petition campaign Thursday in Omaha.

The governor issued a statement on Wednesday following the announcement:

“This flawed initiative would radically expand abortion in Nebraska, resulting in the deaths of thousands of babies in mothers’ wombs. Its vague and deceptive language could throw open the doors to brutal late-term abortions, putting abortion providers in charge of judging whether, for example, a 39-week-old pre-born baby can be aborted. That is totally out of step with the pro-life principles of the overwhelming majority of Nebraskans, whose representatives last session passed a strong and reasonable 12-week abortion ban with common sense exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. I was proud to sign that bill into law and I will continue to fight to save as many babies’ lives as possible from abortion, including by working to defeat this initiative. We will continue to support moms and help them choose life and love. I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with pro-life leaders across Nebraska to defend life in our state.”

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen