Media Contact

Sam Petto, ACLU of Nebraska Communications Director

March 5, 2024

ACLU attorneys exit the Nebraska Supreme Court. Photo by Rebecca Gratz for the ACLU of Nebraska.

LINCOLN, Neb. – This morning, attorneys representing Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and its medical director urged the Nebraska Supreme Court to overturn Nebraska’s 12-week abortion ban and restrictions on care for transgender youth, raising concerns with how the Nebraska Legislature enacted the restrictions in violation of the state constitution.

Today’s oral arguments for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Hilgers centered on whether Nebraska state senators violated a state constitutional requirement that “no bill shall contain more than one subject” when they added a 12-week abortion ban to a bill restricting care for trans youth. This came near the end of last year’s contentious legislative session after lawmakers failed to pass a six-week abortion ban earlier in the session.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Nebraska and Powers Law are litigating the case. The lawsuit is on appeal from Lancaster County District Court.

Ruth Richardson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, made this statement on today’s hearing:

“Today, we have hope that the Court will restore abortion access beyond 12 weeks in Nebraska,” Richardson said. “We will continue to provide Nebraskans with abortion care. And, if we can’t provide that care under the current constraints of this law, our patient navigators will help Nebraskans find and access the care they need out of state. Nebraskans shouldn’t be forced to travel across state lines to access the essential abortion care they so desperately need. Yet, that’s exactly what is happening because of this law. We will not rest until everyone can make their own decisions about their bodies, lives and futures.”

Rose Godinez, legal director of the ACLU of Nebraska, made this statement:

“State senators could only pass these harmful provisions by disregarding the Nebraska Constitution,” Godinez said. “Almost a year later, Nebraskans are suffering as a result. At the heart of the matter, this is about good governance and the clear language and intent of our state constitution. All we are asking the court to do is ensure that each issue before the Nebraska Legislature is considered on its own merits just as the state constitution requires. We are eagerly awaiting the decision in hope that the court will ensure that the single-subject requirement still carries force of law and apply it to these extreme combined restrictions.”

Matt Segal, senior staff attorney with the ACLU State Supreme Court Initiative, made this statement:

“Nebraska’s constitution, like the constitutions of more than 40 other states, has a single-subject rule requiring the Legislature to consider legislation one subject at a time,” Segal said. “State supreme courts play a vital role in enforcing this rule. When the single-subject rule is followed, legislation is more transparent, more carefully considered and more accountable to the people. The bill at issue in this case violated the single-subject rule, and people in Nebraska are being harmed as a result.”

Because the case involves the constitutionality of state law, five of the seven Nebraska Supreme Court justices must side with the plaintiffs in order for their lawsuit to be successful.

The court opinion will likely be issued in several weeks or months, although it could come at any time.