LINCOLN — A bill introduced Tuesday in the Nebraska Legislature sets the stage for this year’s major abortion debate.
Legislative Bill 521 would block Nebraska abortion providers from duplicating an Iowa program that makes drug-induced abortions available in rural areas.
In Iowa, a woman can go to one of 16 Planned Parenthood clinics, get a pregnancy test, undergo an ultrasound and be examined by a nurse. The patient then talks with a doctor via a private computer network connection.
The doctor, after reviewing the woman’s medical records and talking with her, can remotely open a container to provide her with pills. The process is similar to what would occur if a woman saw a doctor in person for a drug-induced abortion.
Two drugs — mifepristone and misoprostol — are combined to cause abortion during the first nine weeks of pregnancy.
The bill would require that a doctor be in the same room as a woman to administer the abortion-inducing drugs.
State Sen. Tony Fulton of Lincoln, who introduced the measure, said that having in-person abortion appointments is important for safety and for doctor-patient relationships.
Officials with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, based in Des Moines, plan to oppose the bill. The organization has clinics in Omaha and Lincoln.
Among other measures introduced Tuesday:
Deadbeat parents. An online “wall of shame” for parents delinquent in child support would be created by LB 488. People could be put on the list if they owed at least $5,000 and had not made a payment in at least six months.
Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, who introduced the bill, said he hopes that the possibility of public exposure would encourage people to take care of their obligations. The list also may help authorities find people.
Immigration resolution. Sen. Brenda Council of Omaha proposed a resolution calling for the federal government to pass “thorough, commonsense, workable and humane” immigration reforms.
She said the resolution is patterned after an approach taken by business, faith and community leaders in Utah.
Savings “raffles.” LB 542 would allow credit unions to provide prizes to members who deposit funds in savings accounts.
Sen. Amanda McGill of Lincoln, who introduced the bill, said the average family spends $540 a year on lottery tickets, which would be better spent by depositing in a savings account. Two other states allow such promotions.
Health insurance for dependents. LB 493 would rescind a state law that allows parents to keep children on their health insurance policy until age 30 in some cases.
The bill would replace it with a provision allowing such coverage for all adult children through age 26, which mirrors the national health care law.
The change, introduced by Sen. Rich Pahls of Omaha, is sought by the insurance industry to create uniformity among the states.
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