By Dave Andrusko
On August 11, after hearing arguments from lawyers for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, Lancaster County District Court Judge Lori Maret sided with the state.
Plaintiffs had requested that a preliminary injunction be placed on the “Let Them Grow Act” and the accompanying law protecting the unborn at 12-weeks and beyond with the exception of rape, incest, and life of the mother.
The final version of LB 574 that was signed into law in May immediately went into effect.
Last Friday, Planned Parenthood and its medical director, Dr. Sarah Traxler, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, filed notice with the Nebraska Supreme Court that they are appealing the dismissal of their lawsuit.
“We will never stop fighting for the reproductive freedom, bodily autonomy, and health of our Nebraska communities,” Ruth Richardson, president of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said in a press release. “We are doubling down on that commitment with this appeal.”
A spokesperson for the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office said the state “looks forward to defending the statute in this important case.”
Attorneys for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland had argued that when the “Preborn Child Protection Act” —Amendment 1568—was attached to the “Let Them Grow Act” —LB 574—on May 16, it violated the Nebraska Constitution’s requirement that legislation be confined to a single subject.
The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office maintained that LB 574 “firmly withstands” questions about its constitutionality because the two matters both deal with public health and welfare.
“Plaintiffs (Planned Parenthood) rely on case law that is often inapplicable, distinguishable, or plainly stands against its proffered outcome,” wrote the Attorney General’s office. According to reporter Paul Hammel, Attorney General Erik Fernit’s brief maintains it is “irrelevant how LB 574 got passed and that the court needs only to consider ‘the end result.’”
Responding to Judge Maret’s decision, Gov. Jim Pillen said, “I am grateful for the court’s thorough decision.” He went to say, “I was proud to sign into law a measure that protects kids and defends the unborn, and I am pleased that it has been upheld. Thank you to the Attorney General and his litigation team for defending this important law.”
Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers added, “We are thankful for the court’s thoughtful analysis and recognition of the Legislature’s prerogatives and processes. As a result of today’s order, LB 574 remains law in Nebraska.”
Richardson called Judge Maret’s decision a “devastating blow to Nebraskans’ fundamental right to make what should be private decisions between them and their doctors.”
Earlier this year, a bill to protect unborn children after the 6th week fell short by a single vote of overcoming a filibuster.