LINCOLN, Neb. – Today, Nebraska State Senator Megan Hunt and reproductive health advocates announced a new effort to expand access to abortion care in Nebraska.
Sen. Hunt said the effort will focus on three bills when the Nebraska Legislature reconvenes, two of which she plans to introduce this year and one that will carry over from last year. Local medical professionals and civil rights advocates from the ACLU of Nebraska, Planned Parenthood North Central States and the Women’s Fund of Omaha attended the press conference in support of the proposed legislation.
Sen. Hunt is proposing a repeal of the state restriction that forces Nebraskans with private insurance to purchase additional optional coverage for abortion care. She will also seek changes to allow Certified Nurse-Midwives, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and physician assistants to provide abortion care.
The third effort focuses on passage of state bill LB276, which carries over from the 2021 session. The bill would repeal Nebraska’s ban on telehealth for medication abortion. Nebraska’s telehealth ban requires patients to take pills in the presence of a physician, despite the Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision to permanently allow medication abortion by mail.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a national reproductive and sexual health research and policy organization, states have passed 1,336 restrictions on abortion since Roe was decided in 1973 and a record 106 abortion restrictions have passed in 2021 alone. Access to abortion in Nebraska is already highly restricted and the Guttmacher Institute categorizes the state as hostile to reproductive rights.
Today’s press conference comes at a point of national uncertainty surrounding the future of reproductive rights. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban in a case that directly challenges Roe v. Wade and nearly 50 years of related precedent. Challenges to Texas’ 6-week abortion ban otherwise known as SB8, the most restrictive ban in the nation, are also pending in the courts.
Quotes for media use:
“Abortion is essential health care that is safe and legal in Nebraska. However, medically unnecessary barriers are making abortion harder to access and are pushing care out of reach. Let's be clear, we can't walk in another person's shoes. And once a Nebraskan makes the decision to have an abortion, they should be able to do so free from political interference. I trust Nebraskans to make their own decisions about what is best for their lives and their families. That is why I’m proud to be part of the coalition of Nebraskans who are working hard to protect access to reproductive health care, including abortion care.” — Nebraska State Senator Megan Hunt
Abortion bans hurt everyone and especially people who are working to make ends meet, most often young people and people of color — particularly Black people. Bans create burdens and barriers that limit our reproductive health care access and choices. We deserve to decide. We need state senators to respect our right to make our own decisions free from oppressive government interference.” — Ashlei Spivey, Founder and Director, I Be Black Girl
“As a health care worker who has worked directly in abortion care, guiding patients through their appointments, I know firsthand the impact that these medically unnecessary barriers have on real people that are trying to exercise their fundamental right to abortion. Our patients often navigate the constraints of “access” feeling that they do not have control at all, despite having made a clear decision about their health care. Undoing these barriers is vital to providing the quality reproductive healthcare that Nebraskans deserve.” — Mimi Arabalo, Bilingual Health Educator, Planned Parenthood North Central States
“From cost to travel, many barriers stand in the way of someone getting an abortion as soon as they have made their decision to seek abortion care. Medically unnecessary restrictions infringe on our fundamental rights to privacy and bodily autonomy. We applaud Sen. Hunt for recognizing that Nebraskans who need an abortion should be able to get one without navigating a web of government restrictions and obstacles.” — Scout Richters, Legal and Policy Counsel, ACLU of Nebraska
“Nebraskans should be able to access the health care they need without shame, unnecessary restrictions or outside interference. Barriers to timely, affordable and high-quality reproductive health care, including abortion care, often harm those who are already marginalized in our society, including people with low incomes, people of color, young people, LGBTQ+ individuals and people in many rural communities.” — Jo Giles, Executive Director, Women’s Fund of Omaha