In a recent World-Herald guest opinion, one of my colleagues, Sen. Megan Hunt, argued that 2022 is the time for the Nebraska Legislature to undo its protections for expectant mothers and unborn children and expand access to abortion. Just the opposite is true: 2022 presents new opportunities for electoral and legislative action to extend our state’s pro-life protections in accordance with the will and conscience of the people. We must seize this chance.
Nebraska is a pro-life state. This essential truth is reflected in our laws, in the outcomes of our elections and in the values held by many Nebraskans. Through their votes, they have made their voices loudly and clearly heard on the issue of life. They’ve elected a staunchly pro-life governor and legislative majority, of which I am proud to be a member, for a reason. With their support, Nebraska has long been a leader in protecting unborn life.
For example, our state’s partial-birth abortion ban ultimately paved the way for a federal ban on this abhorrent practice. In 2010, as speaker of Legislature, I introduced and helped pass the Abortion Pain Prevention Act, then the most sweeping pro-life law in the nation. It outlawed almost all abortions past the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and was the nation’s first pro-life protection based on the science of fetal pain. Under Gov. Pete Ricketts’ leadership, Nebraska has been a national leader in the fight to ensure taxpayers’ dollars do not subsidize abortions.
After nearly 50 years of pro-abortion judicial activism, our nation now appears to be on the cusp of returning questions of unborn life to where they belong: the purview of the people and their elected leaders, not unelected judges. In the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to revisit precedents that invented a supposed constitutional right to abortion in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Complex issues of such great importance ought to be decided by the voters at the ballot box, and by the leaders they elect to implement their will via legislation. In the 2022 legislative session, I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to advance further pro-life legislation to Ricketts’ desk. In May, and again in November, Nebraska voters will have the opportunity to expand the Legislature’s pro-life majority above the 33-vote cloture threshold and elect a governor who will champion unborn life as fervently as the governor has.
It is my hope, and the hope of millions of Americans, that very soon, the people’s ability to implement their will on this issue will no longer be constrained by arbitrary decisions made on the basis of arbitrary, fictitious readings of the Constitution. Regardless of any Supreme Court decision, however, Nebraska must continue its fight and join states like Texas and Mississippi at the forefront of pro-life protections once again.