I am a proud, lifelong Nebraskan who takes great pride in caring for the women of our state. I didn’t enter medicine to become involved in politics, but a Legislative Bill 626 — a dangerous bill that would ban abortion after cardiac activity is detected — prevents me from keeping quiet.
At 32-weeks pregnant, I made the drive to Lincoln with two of fellow physicians after a busy morning seeing patients to be present for the committee hearing on LB 626. I was proud to be a part of a large group of health care providers and Nebraska citizens who presented to oppose LB 626.
This bill would ban abortion once cardiac activity is detected with limited exceptions for medical emergencies and rape and incest. The bill threatens the license of physicians if they perform an unapproved abortion.
The wording regarding medical emergencies and threats to health of the mother is vague and difficult to interpret, raising questions for physicians and patients alike. How imminent must the risk of death be to fall clearly under the exception and not put our licenses at risk?
People are also reading…
A situation we may encounter is water breaking very early in pregnancy. The chance of the pregnancy continuing to viability is low, and the pregnant woman has a risk of serious complications, including hemorrhage, sepsis, hysterectomy or even death.
Waiting for a complication to present itself and become a “medical emergency” could be very dangerous for our patient and could threaten not only her health and life, but also her future child-bearing potential.
We also may be faced with situations where patients receive a cancer diagnosis in pregnancy. Hormones during pregnancy, can fuel the cancer’s growth, putting the patient at greater risk, but cancer treatment could be toxic to the developing fetus. This bill has no exceptions for birth defects that are incompatible with life. Carrying these pregnancies can be traumatic for patients and can have higher rates of complications. Women with serious mental health conditions at risk for suicide would not be allowed to seek abortion to save her life. Who would you like making life-altering medical decisions: your physician or state legislators?
The narrative surrounding LB 626 and this committee hearing has been that physician concerns regarding previously proposed abortion bans in Nebraska have been addressed with this bill.
The narrative is that there is an even-split of doctors who support and oppose of this bill.
The facts are that the capitol was flooded with the white coats of physicians, resident physicians, medical students and other health care providers who came to voice their firm opposition of LB 626. There were four physicians who spoke in support of the bill, one of which was flown in from Texas.
In contrast, over 20 physicians spoke in opposition of this bill and there were plenty more waiting to speak when the allotted three hours of opposition testimony had finished. All of us spoke about our concerns regarding the harm this bill will bring to our patients and to the practice of medicine in Nebraska.
To be clear, the health care community, with the exception of a small number of providers, is united in their opposition of LB 626.
In fact, the Nebraska Medical Association, Nebraska Nursing Association, Nebraska Medicine, the Nebraska section of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Nebraska Psychiatric Society have all voiced opposition to this bill.
We are not a small group of physicians opposing this bill, we are the majority. We understand that this bill will harm the women of Nebraska, as similar legislation has harmed women in Texas.
Pregnancy can have significant health risks for women, and the decision to continue a pregnancy should be between a patient and their doctor. Abortion can often be a life-saving procedure. When you threaten physicians’ licenses, care will be delayed causing patients to suffer and, in some cases, die.
I trust women to make decisions about their own lives and what is best for them, and I trust my colleagues to provide evidence-based, safe health care.
Legislators do not have a place in our exam rooms.
OWH Midlands Voices January 2023
Andi Curry Grubb writes, "State representatives have more control over our bodies than we do — for the first time in five decades."
Jim Cavanaugh and Hal Daub write, "Douglas County has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accomplish a remarkably good achievement that could change the lives of people with mental health disabilities and their families across our community."
Nichole Turgeon writes, "As 2023’s National Mentoring Month closes, a shortage of volunteers continues to affect the operations of many nonprofits ..."
Omaha native Paul Critchlow reflects on the letters he wrote to his service board while serving in Vietnam.
Kiril Domuschiev writes, "Food insecurity and hunger emergencies already strain global food systems ... In Nebraska, 188,080 people face hunger, including 64,190 children."
John Garlock writes, "For far too long, both parties have been fiscally irresponsible. The only time we hear elected officials discuss the national debt is on the campaign trail."
Robert Nefsky writes, "On a per capita basis, Nebraska’s annual public investment in the arts and humanities currently averages about $1.25, which consistently ranks around 12th in the nation."
Rebecca S. Fahrlander writes, "During this lengthy pandemic, I have often reflected on how my diagnosis and experience with cancer many years ago has helped me cope."
David D. Begley writes that wind and solar energy is not in Nebraskans' best interests.
U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse writes, "America needs more normal people. More Nebraskans getting involved in civics to box out the most divisive voices in politics."
Henry W. Burke writes, "Omaha’s proposed streetcar system defies common sense."
Joseph Giitter writes, "Downtown and midtown could become a contiguous urban core where people live, work and shop without relying on an automobile."
Nathan Leach writes, Norris "believed elected officials should represent the interests of their constituents well before that of political parties."
Mike Johanns writes, "Maintaining the land itself through uses such as renewable energy ensures conservation of the farmland for future generations."
Rebecca Firestone writes, "Policymakers can protect the state by ensuring new legislation focuses on proven initiatives that empower hardworking Nebraskans."
Matt Blomstedt writes, "This winter, Congress has a chance to pass critical child nutrition program updates that would better take care of students and support our schools."