Pro-life, pro-choice measures at odds in Nebraska legislature

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Published Thursday, January 13, 2022
by Eric Galatas

(Nebraska News Connection) As Nebraska's GOP leaders work to further restrict and even ban access to abortion services, Sen. Megan Hunt, D-Omaha, has introduced two bills designed to improve women's access to reproductive health care.

Legislative Bill 715 would allow insurers to cover abortion services. Legislative Bill 716 would allow Certified Nurse-Midwives, RNs and physician assistants to perform abortions.

Jo Giles, executive director of the Women's Fund of Omaha, believes the best way to reduce unwanted pregnancies is to protect women's health.

"What we're advocating for is barrier-free access to affordable health care, to comprehensive sex education, and access to birth control, not more restrictions on health care," Giles asserted.

Republicans say their legislation is in sync with the state's pro-life constituencies, but according to Pew Research, a majority of Nebraskans surveyed said abortion should not be banned or restricted.

Fifty percent of Nebraska adults say abortion services should be legal, compared with 46 % who said the procedure should be illegal, in all or most cases.

Legislative Bill 933 would ban abortions in Nebraska if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Legislative Bill 781, a Texas-inspired measure, would make abortions illegal after six weeks, before most women learn they are pregnant.

Giles said ultimately women, not lawmakers, should have the right to make decisions about their own bodies.

"And when you remove access, when you restrict abortion rights and access, you're saying that you don't trust women to make the decisions for themselves, their livelihood and their family," Giles contended.

Giles added women need regular access to birth control in order to determine the right time to start a family. Her group is also working to pass Legislative Bill 20, which would allow health providers to prescribe an entire year of birth control in a single visit.

"Someone who has limited access to transportation or doesn't have paid time off work, that's a barrier to being able to receive care," Giles emphasized. "Because they may not be able to get transportation and time off work to go and see a medical provider every month."

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