Abortion reversal bill advances in Legislature

May 8, 2019

Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston had no trouble stopping a filibuster Tuesday on her abortion reversal bill and advancing it to a second round of debate.

After the 37-9 vote to advance the bill (LB209), its major opponent, Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt, said she would filibuster the bill again on second and on final readings.

The debate centered around whether the procedure used to “reverse” a medication abortion -- administering doses of progesterone after the first abortion pill, mifepristone, and not taking the second pill in order to “rescue” the pregnancy -- is legitimate science.

Even without taking progesterone, it is estimated up to half of women who take only mifepristone would continue their pregnancies, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Albrecht said the bill is about informed consent. Fifty-five percent of abortions in Nebraska are done with the two-pill medication option.

“We really do care about the mother and her ability to have a choice,” she said.

That choice would be to continue the abortion or stop the procedure after the first pill with the hope of carrying the fetus to term and having a healthy baby, she added.

Hunt said the bill was based on one paper that was done unethically, with no institutional review board oversight, no involvement from an ethical review committee, and was published in a disreputable journal.

The original bill supports an experimental procedure, she said, not approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, opposed by the American Medical Association and not adequately tested and may be dangerous for women and their pregnancies.

The Judiciary Committee amended the bill before sending it to the floor of the Legislature for debate in order not to force doctors to give information to women that is not scientifically proven.

Chairman Steve Lathrop said there was a constitutional problem with the original language, since the state cannot force someone to say something they don’t believe to be true.

Sen. Robert Clements of Elmwood said that although some babies would survive that first pill without additional support, “it is scientific common sense to supply the hormone (progesterone) in order to increase the survival rate of fetuses for women who have changed their mind.”

There is more than ample evidence, he said, that progesterone markedly improves survival.

Albrecht moved to invoke cloture, that is, stop debate and take a vote on the bill, and that was approved by a 37-5 margin.