The passage of Legislative Bill 814 restricts abortion rights and is a method ban based on political beliefs rather than medical best practices. Once again, the question of abortion rights and reproductive health care is being judged in a political lens rather than through practical medical analysis.
LB 814 is part of an orchestrated national strategy by anti-abortion politicians to push abortion care further out of reach. Since 2010, “more than 400 medically unnecessary restrictions” have been placed on doctors, patients and care facilities, according to the ACLU. LB 814 is now on this list. It is not surprising that a state that held a “statewide day of prayer to end abortion” would call back the unicameral legislature and spend a major part of a postponed session — during a pandemic, a financial crisis and a racial reckoning — on a bill that takes health care away from Nebraskans. Politicians do not have our actual concerns in mind, just a political mission.
LB 814 makes it illegal for doctors to use their best medical judgment and outlaws what is the “standard of care for abortions after about 14 or 15 weeks,” according to Sen. Megan Hunt in an article by News Channel Nebraska. Medically, there is no reason to deny women and their doctors the ability to use this method of abortion care. Commenting on the poor language of the bill, Sen. Megan Hunt stated in a Lincoln Journal Star article that the injunctive relief section was messy and had purposeful issues with the language. Missing content like exceptions for rape and incest and lack of cause of action for unmarried fathers were just two of the senator’s concerns. Supporters of this bill have stigmatized this reproductive medical care by using the term “dismemberment abortion.” However, this name is not at all medically accurate.
“Only a small number of abortions in Nebraska are performed during the second trimester for various reasons, including health risks to pregnant women and fetal anomalies that aren’t detected until later in pregnancy,” according to Planned Parenthood North Central States. The article also notes that other barriers can affect a woman’s ability to get an abortion earlier in their pregnancy such as “mandated waiting periods, delays in accessing insurance, and a lack of providers.”
Following a similar ban debated in the Kansas Legislature, an organized group of 22 experts in obstetrics and gynecology opposed the bill. Planned Parenthood of the North Central States reported on the letter, where the physicians stated that the bill would “restrict the safest and most expeditious way to terminate a second trimester pregnancy” and lead to substandard care for patients.
In opposing the Nebraska LB 814 bill, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated in a letter, “[q]uite simply, these restrictions represent legislative interference at its worst: doctors will be forced, by ill-advised, unscientifically motivated policy, to provide lesser care to patients.” Planned Parenthood of the North Central States reported that the college found LB814 “unacceptable.” The medical community is not being listened to, doctors' opinions are seen as less important than political ideals and women’s choices are seen as obsolete.
The Guttmacher Institute says bans on second-trimester abortions overwhelmingly affected women of color in low income areas, rather than other demographics. These are the Nebraskans that the supporters of this bill do not care about. It will be these women who face the hardship and have their access to medically viable options reduced.
While this ban may not directly affect the life of a Creighton student, abortion and reproductive health care will likely arise in your life in the future. These politically based policies that harm accessibility restrict a person’s choices down the road. While LB 814 has already been passed, this is an example of why it is important to reach out to senators, both statewide and federally, and voice your opinion to them. Even if this bill gets struck down in the courts, there will be more efforts to restrict abortion by banning different methods. The public organizing against these policies is one of the only ways to prevent the restrictions from becoming a reality. If any student would like to get involved with an Omaha organization that protects reproductive rights, I urge you to follow @decentralized_repro.