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New Steps to Protect Life

New Steps to Protect Life

By Governor Pete Ricketts

January 21, 2020

 

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There’s nothing more exciting than the first glimpse of your baby at an ultrasound.  It’s hard to describe the wave of joy and overwhelming sense of wonder when you watch your child’s heart beating, see tiny fingers or toes, and discover his or her gender.  Trust me: it’s also quite a surprise when you see two babies in an ultrasound picture like our family did with our twins!

 

As a father of three wonderful children, I am proud to say that Nebraska is a pro-life state.  I admire that thousands of Nebraskans consistently and courageously take action to protect unborn life.  They volunteer at pregnancy centers, provide support to expectant mothers, and donate resources to young families.  Through the exceptional work of nonprofits, places of worship, and individuals, we’ve built a culture that respects the sacred dignity of life. 

 

On Saturday, I gathered with thousands of Nebraskans—including a number of State Senators and my Lt. Governor—on the steps of the State Capitol to take part in the annual Walk for Life.  It was inspiring to see parents and their children marching together through the cold, boldly standing up for the worth of the most vulnerable life in our society.

 

Nebraska state law says that it is “the will of the people of the State of Nebraska and the members of the Legislature to provide protection for the life of the unborn child whenever possible.”  In Nebraska, we have a long tradition of protecting unborn life through state law.

 

  • In 1991, Senator Bernice Labedz of Omaha, a Democrat, led the effort to enact a law requiring parental notification before a minor receives an abortion.
  • In 2002 and 2004, Lt. Governor Mike Foley, who was a Senator at the time, helped create new laws making fetal homicide and fetal assault a crime. 
  • In 2010, then-Speaker Mike Flood of Norfolk successfully championed the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” making Nebraska the first state in the nation to ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation. 
  • In 2011, Senator Lydia Brasch of Bancroft further strengthened laws requiring parental consent before a minor receives an abortion.

During my time in office, we have continued to affirm the dignity of life through a variety of initiatives.

 

  • In 2017, Senator Joni Albrecht championed the Compassionate Care for Medically Challenging Pregnancies Act.  Tragically, some unborn children are diagnosed with lethal fetal anomalies.  The Compassionate Care Act ensures that doctors fully equip women with information on perinatal hospice care at the time of these difficult diagnoses.  By doing so, patients and their families gain immediate awareness of resources and support services to help them cope with this heartbreaking challenge.
  • In 2018, the Legislature approved LB 1040 to provide commemorative certificates to mothers who miscarry prior to the 20th week of pregnancy.  This bill affirms the dignity of life and humanely acknowledges the loss that an expectant mother undergoes through miscarriage.
  • In 2018, the State gave teammates the option to donate unused vacation leave to expectant mothers. 
  • In 2019, Senator Albrecht of Thurston sponsored a bill to bolster the state’s informed consent protections.  It required doctors to direct women to information on how to reverse the abortion pill when the drug is prescribed.  The Legislature passed the bill with bipartisan support, and I signed it into law on June 4, 2019.

 

This legislative session, Senator Suzanne Geist has sponsored a bill (LB 814) to end the brutal practice of dismemberment abortion in Nebraska.  These abortions usually take place between 13 and 24 weeks of pregnancy.  This barbaric procedure literally rips apart a preborn child, piece by piece, to destroy the life of the baby.  I urge Senators to act quickly to end this horrendous form of abortion.  I also encourage Nebraskans to contact their State Senators to voice support of LB 814.

 

This Wednesday marks the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s infamous Roe. v. Wade decision that legally sanctioned the killing of preborn babies.  The 1973 decision is one of the darkest moments in our nation’s history.  I urge Nebraskans to pray for an end to abortion this week.  Nebraskans are also encouraged to take practical steps to aid mothers, fathers, and families in need, especially those expecting a child who cannot provide for themselves.

 

Protecting the dignity of life has been, is, and will remain a core value of what is means to be a Nebraskan.  I invite you to join us in affirming the preciousness of unborn life and in opposing the brutal practices used to end it by contacting your State Senator.  Their information can be found at www.NebraskaLegislature.gov.  If you would like an update on our pro-life initiatives, or have questions about them, please write me at pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call 402-471-2244.