A bill that would ban dilation and evacuation abortions may soon pass as Nebraska lawmakers advanced LB814 toward select file during the debate on Aug. 5.
Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln presented a bill that would ban dismemberment abortion procedures performed in the second trimester, weeks 13-24 of a woman’s pregnancy on a living fetus. The bill advanced on Aug. 5 with a 34-9 vote, despite the controversy on the floor.
“I disagree with people who say that this is not important to the people of Nebraska,” Geist said. “There are pro-choice women and men who support this.”
LB814 describes dilation and evacuation abortions, also known as dismemberment abortions, as procedures where living fetuses are extracted from women’s uterus using clamps, tong or other similar instruments. The bill excludes second-trimester abortions done by suction or emergency situations including the risk of death or serious risk of substantial impairment to the mother. Opposers said they view it as a violation of women’s constitutional rights.
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln said women should have the freedom to obtain safe and affordable abortions without punishment. If the bill passes, doctors performing the abortion will face a Class IV Felony.
Doctors performing the procedure will face two years imprisonment with 12 months post-release supervision and/or $10,000 fine. The women having the procedure will face criminal charges.
“There’s a constitutional right to abortion, and that there cannot be an undue burden placed on those constitutional rights,” Brooks said.
Brooks said the costs of the bill will be legal cases against the state and the bill’s unconstitutionality.
“Decisions by the Supreme Court have also said that people have a 14th Amendment right to privacy to allow the termination of an unwanted pregnancy,” Brooks said.
Sen. Wendy DeBoer of Bennington said she also doesn’t support the bill because of its unconstitutionality, although she personally doesn’t agree with the procedure.
“The procedure sounds just horrible. I’ve listened to Sen. Halloran describe the process from his own perspective and he paints a very vivid, horrific picture,” DeBoer said.
She said she heard the same descriptions in the Judiciary Committee hearing as well and it makes the argument of doctors using their best judgment difficult to believe. DeBoer said she can only vote based on constitutional guarantees.
“I could not find any evidence that the burden has changed. That the standard of examining these things has changed,” DeBoer said.
Like Geist, DeBoer reassured her fellow colleagues that the focus of the bill is to protect the lives of not only the fetuses but also the mothers.
With the advancement of the bill, Geist said she will amend the bill before the second round to define the position of fetuses’ fathers in an abortion.