Nebraska lawmakers pass bill restricting abortion, gender-affirming care for trans minors

Nebraska lawmakers voted on Friday to restrict abortion access after 12 weeks and to ban gender affirming care for trans youth.

The bill, passed by the Nebraska legislature in a 33-15 vote, will head over to Republican Gov. Jim Pillen's desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.

The bill will prohibit gender-affirming procedures for anyone under the age of 19 and give the state's chief medical officer responsibility for establishing limitations on hormone therapy and puberty blockers for the same age range.

Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh speaks, May 19, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb., as lawmakers debated a bill that would ban abortions at 12 weeks of pregnancy and also ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors.Nick Ingram/AP

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Abortions will also be prohibited after 12 weeks of pregnancy. There will only be exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the pregnant person.

In April, a bill to ban abortion once cardiac activity can be detected, which is usually around six weeks, failed.

Legislative Bill 574 comes after a wave of legislation that have taken place in other states like Texas and Florida which have passed similar legislation restricting or prohibiting the provision of gender-affirming healthcare to minors. The abortion amendment was added on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people descend on the Nebraska Capitol, in Lincoln, May 16, 2023, to protest plans by conservative lawmakers in the Nebraska Legislature to revive an abortion ban rejected last month by folding it into a bill that would ban gender-affirming care in transgender minors.Margery Beck/AP

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Supporters of the bill claimed it would prevent teenagers from having irreversible medical operations they might later regret as well as abortions on unborn children.

"This bill is about protecting children. That's it. It's titled 'Let them Grow,'" said Republican Sen. Kathleen Kauth, one of the bill's authors. "Let them grow to be adults, and they can make whatever decisions it is that they want. And we will support and encourage and love them."

"We know it in our head. And we know that this bill is the right bill. It's a compromise," Republican State Sen. John Lowe said.

Lawmakers who opposed the bill sought to block the anti-trans legislation by filibustering nearly every bill that came up during the legislative session.

"You have to live with your vote. You have to live with the role that you play in history in the making today. You have to live with the fact that you voted to take away people's rights," Democrat State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh said.


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