Reproductive rights advocates in Nebraska have taken their first steps towards placing a constitutional amendment on next year’s ballot to undo the state’s new 12-week abortion ban, though the Nebraska Examiner’s Paul Hammel notes that organizers have yet to decide on the text of their measure or how far it might go. The drive comes months after Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, an officially nonpartisan body that has been dominated by Republicans for decades, approved increased restrictions in the face of fierce opposition.
In 2010, the 49-member chamber had passed a bill outlawing most abortions after 20 weeks, the first of its kind in the nation. Conservatives tried to go much further earlier this year when they introduced legislation that would have banned the procedure after only about six weeks. Democrats, though, organized a filibuster to prevent the bill from receiving the 33 votes it needed to advance.
During the 2022 elections, Republicans fell one seat short of obtaining the two-thirds majority they would need to overcome filibusters, but Democratic Sen. Mike McDonnell joined their efforts to move the bill forward. (Another Democrat, Justin Wayne, abstained.) However, Republican Sen. Merv Riepe made the crucial decision to abstain after his party refused to take up his plan to restrict access to 12 weeks. Riepe cited his own tough race months earlier to explain his reluctance to accept a six-week ban, warning his colleagues, “We must embrace the future of reproductive rights.”
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