Nebraska governor scraps special session for 12-week abortion ban due to lack of support

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) on Monday reversed his plan to call a special session of the state legislature to pass a 12-week abortion ban after an insufficient number of lawmakers indicated they would support such a measure.

Ricketts had vowed to call the special session after the draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade leaked, but the governor said on Monday, months after the actual decision dropped, he received a letter from the state speaker revealing a vote would not have the 33 state senators needed for passage.

“It is deeply saddening that only 30 Nebraska state senators are willing to come back to Lincoln this fall in order to protect innocent life,” the governor said in a statement, which comes less than a week after voters in neighboring Kansas rejected a ballot initiative that would have allowed its lawmakers to restrict abortion.

“The proposal to change Nebraska’s state law that prohibits abortions starting at 20 weeks and reduce that to 12 weeks is a measured, reasonable step to protect more preborn babies in our state,” Ricketts added.

After the Supreme Court earlier this summer overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, rejecting a constitutional right to abortion, red states saw a flurry of activity seeking to restrict the procedure.

Some states had previously passed so-called trigger laws that automatically implemented abortion restrictions following the court’s ruling, while Republican leaders in other states, like Nebraska, promised to call special legislative sessions to quickly pass new restrictions.

“I ask all Nebraskans who are pro-life to look at the list of state senators who signed the letter,” Ricketts said, urging residents to call their lawmakers.

Indiana’s governor on Friday signed a near-total ban on the procedure, the first state to approve abortion restrictions following the court’s ruling.

The law will take effect on Sept. 15 and includes exceptions in cases of rape, incest, protecting the health of the mother or when the fetus has a lethal anomaly. Abortions would also be permitted up to 10-weeks post-fertilization.

In Nebraska, patients must receive counseling designed to discourage them from having an abortion and wait 24 hours before undergoing the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion nonprofit.

“Most of the free world has more reasonable abortion laws than Nebraska,” Ricketts said. 

“Over 75 percent of countries around the world have placed restrictions on abortion at 12 weeks,” he continued. “Our 20-week abortion ban puts us in line with a narrow ten percent of countries — including countries like North Korea and China — that fail to protect preborn babies.”

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