AP NEWS

Legislature advances medication abortion information bill to final reading

May 24, 2019

Sen. Joni Albrecht’s bill that would guide women on where to get information if they change their minds halfway through a medication abortion made it to a second round of debate Thursday, and another filibuster.

The bill (LB209) would have doctors inform women who are starting a medication abortion that they can seek information from a state Department of Health and Human Services website to find immediate medical assistance if they want to stop the abortion after taking the first drug, mifepristone.

Albrecht said she has received more email on this bill than any other in the three years she has served, almost all of it positive.

The Legislature advanced the bill to final reading on a 36-9 vote.

Senators also adopted an amendment introduced by Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue that a woman could not be cited for public indecency, a Class II misdemeanor, for breastfeeding in public. State law already allows a woman to breastfeed in any public or private area where she is otherwise authorized to be. But if someone would complain, she could apparently be cited for public indecency.

Blood said a lot of public shaming is done and negative comments are made on social media about women seen breastfeeding in public.

That amendment was adopted on a 43-3 vote.

During debate on the bill, Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers introduced, then withdrew, an amendment that would change wording in the bill from “unborn child” to “fetus.”

Since senators have been told by supporters of the bill that it deals with scientific material, Chambers said, “then we may as well use scientific, accurate, biological terminology.”

He would also have changed wording in the bill from carrying a “child” to term to carrying a “pregnancy” to term.

“Since we know that this bill is merely a piece of propaganda,” Chambers said, “that it’s the first link in a long chain which those (who) support it hope that they can fashion, they’re not concerned about any use of language, they’re not concerned being accurate.

“They want to make it as onerous a process as they can for a woman to obtain an abortion and for a physician to perform one.”

Albrecht said she would not support the change because she liked the current wording used in the bill.

Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks argued that a lot of people who want to restrict abortion also offer no help to women once the baby is born.

“The way we pick and choose and graze through the salad bar of morality and ethics in this body is just astounding to me,” she said. “How many votes have you made to help take care of the poor people in our state?”

Lincoln Sen. Suzanne Geist said during debate she knows the perception of many people who are not religious is that people of faith are judgmental and hate filled.

“I would just submit to you that my experience has been completely opposite of that,” Geist said. “Hopefully, my life is evidence that it’s opposite of that. I have great compassion for women who have made this very difficult decision.”

She is not pointing a finger at women who choose abortion, she said, but to say there is hope, there is a different choice.

“And if you choose that different choice, we want to make that evidently clear to you,” she said.

The bill is expected to come up for final reading sometime next week.