Nebraska on pace to pass Heartbeat Act!

By Dave Andrusko

By the narrowest of 33-16 margins, the single-house Nebraska legislature voted to end the first round of debate and move forward with the Nebraska Heartbeat Act (LB 626). To break the filibuster, LB 626 needed a two-thirds majority support–33 votes.

Elective abortions are legal in Nebraska for up to 20 weeks. However, LB 626 would protect unborn babies once a heartbeat can be detected, typically at six weeks.

The exceptions would be for rape, incest, and medical emergencies involving the mother’s life or health.

According to the Nebraska Health Department, in 2021, 2,360 unborn babies were aborted and nearly two thirds were later than six weeks of pregnancy.

“Today was a historic day in the Nebraska Legislature as LB 626, the Nebraska Heartbeat Act, was advanced! 33 senators voted to advance the bill after a long day of debate,” Nebraska Right to Life said. “We are grateful for these strong proponents committed to protecting babies with beating hearts!”

“We are filled with great hope and joy as the Nebraska Heartbeat Act clears another hurdle. Nebraskans want greater protections for women and babies from abortion, and the Legislature has delivered in round one,” said Marion Miner, the associate director of pro-life and family policy at the Nebraska Catholic Conference.

Earlier in the day Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, a strong supporter, spoke at a pro-life rally. He expressed hope that unborn babies soon will be protected in their state.

 “The most important time and privilege for me as your governor is that we get this across the finish line, and today is the start,” Pillen said.

But supporters of LB 626 are not out of the woods yet. The legislation must survive two more rounds of debate before the end of the 90-day session to pass. “I know that there are at least one or two senators that are a little uncomfortable with some of the pieces in the bill, and so we’re going to continue working on that going forward,” pro-abortion state Sen. Jen Day said.

Sponsor state Sen. Joni Albrecht said she recognized there were strong feelings on both sides. But “This bill is about babies with beating hearts, and they deserve to be protected,” she said.

“This is about elective abortions,” Sen. Albrecht added. “I know every woman and every child deserves love. We can protect their lives.“

Aaron Sanderford, reporting for the Nebraska Examiner [], wrote

State Sen. Ben Hansen of Lincoln and others, including Sen. Julie Slama of Dunbar, criticized Day for comparing an unborn child to candy.

“We were all just half a Tic Tac at one time,” Slama said.

Hansen spent several minutes quizzing opponents of the bill about what restrictions on abortions they would accept. None responded.

State Sen. Brad von Gillern of Omaha described LB 626 as the most personal legislation senators will discuss in 2023. He said that “standing for life is never wrong.”

In January, a poll was taken of Nebraskans. It found that

A majority of Nebraskans support a bill protecting unborn children with a heartbeat that includes exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

Including nearly two-thirds of Independents, over half of young women, and nearly half of Democrats.