With just a few weeks left in this year’s legislative session, Nebraska state senators are once again trying to take away our rights. Senators have amended and advanced LB 574, a ban on medical care for transgender youth, to add an abortion ban and change key provisions in the original bill. Now is a critical time to contact your senator.
Here are five things to know.
1. It’s just as cruel as the defeated near-total abortion ban.
LB 574 would ban abortion care 12 weeks from a patient’s last period. Since most bans measure from fertilization, it’s technically a 10-week ban. Like all abortion bans, this restriction doesn’t account for real-world situations. First, there are already numerous barriers to accessing abortion care in Nebraska including waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds and biased counseling. Second, given the point in pregnancy that this amendment targets, it’s also important to realize it would affect many Nebraskans who have just gotten tragic news about fetal anomalies and viability. Take for an example the first woman who testified against the original ban this year, describing her experience seeking care for a nonviable pregnancy: “I know we made the choice that was right for us in our family, a choice that we wouldn't have been able to make if [this ban] had been law.” This ban would force hundreds of Nebraskans in already difficult circumstances to flee the state for the care they need or to remain pregnant against their will and potentially against doctors’ medical judgment.
2. In terms of the anti-trans provisions, LB 574 remains a de facto ban.
Ban supporters have tried to frame their amendment as limiting the reach of the original restrictions on health care for trans youth, but the truth is it remains a de facto sweeping ban. The bill now allows Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer, an appointed position, to adopt rules that would determine access to puberty blockers, hormones and other nonsurgical treatments. Families have every reason to worry about severe restrictions on care, especially because this position is appointed by Gov. Jim Pillen, who promised to support anti-trans policies during his campaign.
3. The health consequences would be severe.
Major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, oppose trans youth medical bans and say that this care is medically necessary and life saving. Research shows that denying care to trans youth can contribute to depression, eating disorders, self-harm and suicide attempts. Likewise, representatives for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Nebraska Medical Association, and Nebraska Nurses Association have opposed banning abortion in Nebraska, citing how bans harm maternal care. Like the near-total abortion ban, it’s also noteworthy that this amendment says that psychiatric diagnoses cannot qualify for exemptions to this ban. Senators who have previously expressed concerns about restrictions leading to self harm, such as Sen. Riepe, should understand that it’s a very real possibility under this bill.
4. This amendment is bad for Nebraskans and Nebraska.
The opposition to LB 574 has been swiftly growing. In addition to trans youth, their families, medical experts, and mental health professionals, business leaders have recently weighed in to urge state senators to oppose the bill. The Omaha Chamber of Commerce has said the bill is hurting recruiting and retention and that young professionals don’t want government coming in between them and their medical decisions. And major employers have co-signed letters of opposition, including Union Pacific and Omaha Steaks among others. They know discrimination is bad for business.
5. You know the drill. Your state senators need to hear from you.
Ban supporters need 33 yes votes to overcome a filibuster. Here is how they voted on advancing the bill to its final round of debate.
These 33 senators advanced the bill:
- Von Gillern
These 14 senators voted no:
- Cavanaugh, J.
- Cavanaugh, M.
- Sen. Walz was present not voting on the vote to advance the ban but voted no on adopting the amendment and on ending debate.
- Sen. Wishart was absent due to an unavoidable travel delay. She has voted against this bill in previous rounds of debate and shared on social media that she had hoped to be there to vote no and that she opposes these restrictions.
Contact your senator, and all senators, and urge them to respect their constituents’ rights and protect access to care.