New amendment to six-week abortion ban bill extends to 12 weeks and removes exceptions

LINCOLN, Nebraska. (Nebraska) — If LB 626, better known as the Nebraska Heartbeat Law, is passed, it would place Nebraska among the states with the strictest abortion restrictions.

The bill entered the session with considerable momentum, 28 co-sponsors, and so far it looked like it would get the votes to pass easily.

But the new amendment makes the bill less reliable.

“I just want 13 new senators to speak up. And I know there are some senators, I’ve talked to them, I won’t tell you the name or how many of them, who have expressed similar concerns,” District 12 Senator Merv Ripe said.

Senator Ripe was one of the 28 cosponsors of LB 626, but in the weeks since the bill was introduced, he says he has become concerned about aspects of the bill that he thinks need further discussion.

“Often a woman by that time… and I’m not an expert on this, but the changing menstrual cycle and may not know when they’re pregnant. Definitely not before six weeks,” Ripe said.

Ripe believes the tight deadlines for legal abortions could push women into desperate decisions to terminate their pregnancies.

Decisions such as self-mutilation or intentional mischaracterization of a pregnancy to qualify for exemptions.

“Under Article 626, this is rape, and this is an exception. So even though it was a consensual relationship, getting an abortion because she is desperate, she can claim it was rape,” Ripe said.

Understandably, the amendment drew mixed reactions from anti-abortion and abortion rights advocates.

For opponents of the LB 626, this is a pleasant surprise.

“With Senator Ripe’s amendment, we will see even more heated debate on this issue and more opportunities for Nebraska residents to continue to engage with their senators from all sides of the spectrum,” said Scout Richters, Nebraska ACLU Senior Legal Policy Counsel.

Understandably, the author of the bill, Senator Johny Albrecht, was not happy with the new amendment.

“She said she was disappointed and wanted to sit down and talk about it. And I told her that I would sit down and talk to anyone at any time,” Riepe said.


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