Today, in a shocking and heartbreaking development, LB 626, the Nebraska Heartbeat Act, failed to overcome a second-round filibuster and fell one vote short of advancing. 

This is what happened. 

Senator Merv Riepe, a Republican state senator from Ralston who campaigned as being 100% pro-life, changed his vote and caused the bill to fall one vote short of advancing. Senator Riepe opted to not cast a vote at all and was “present-not-voting.”

Despite co-sponsoring the bill, voting the bill out of committee, attending the “Advance the Heartbeat Act” rally, and voting for the bill twice during the first round of debate, Senator Riepe chose to parrot pro-abortion talking points on the floor and abandoned his support for the bill and thousands of innocent and defenseless babies in the process. Watch the debate here.

We needed 33 votes to overcome the filibuster and advance the bill to final reading. Today’s vote was 32-15, with two senators “present-not-voting.” See how senators voted here. If your senator voted to advance LB 626 today, please thank them for standing for life. 

Senator Riepe unexpectedly introduced an amendment last month to gut LB 626’s pro-life protections and permit abortions on 1,700 preborn children every year. His amendment was debated today but ultimately was not voted on because the bill didn’t reach cloture. 

During his 2022 election campaign, Senator Riepe claimed to “support legal protection for the life of every pre-born child from the moment of conception, unless the mother’s life is at risk,” and he received endorsements and support from pro-life advocates.  

Today’s vote costs lives. Nebraska law currently allows abortion up to 20 weeks gestation, and after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, Nebraska senators had an open path to establish basic heartbeat protections for the unborn and put an end to 2,000 elective abortions in our state every year. 

We are not done yet.

While LB 626 didn’t advance, we are not done—even this session. 32 senators voted to protect women and babies from abortion today, and no option is off the table to find a way to get meaningful pro-life legislation passed this year. 

In a statement, Governor Pillen said, “I am a staunch defender of life and supporter of the Nebraska Heartbeat Act. I am profoundly disappointed in the cloture vote today. It is unacceptable for senators to be “present-not-voting” on such a momentous vote. I call on Senator Merv Riepe to make a motion to reconsider and stand by the commitments to life he has made in the past.”

There are many legislative avenues still available to senators to amend other bills and find ways to start protecting babies from abortion in Nebraska. We will explore them all, and we will find a way. 

Our work will continue.

Our work will continue, and it will be more important than ever that we do not rest until every life is valued, cherished, and protected. The Nebraska Family Alliance team will be at the State Capitol every day, meeting with senators and advocating on behalf of preborn children. We are determined and resolute. Establishing legal protections for every human life from the moment of conception is our top priority.

That is our commitment to you and to every baby boy and girl yet to be born who are depending on us to help give to them the same right that was given to us—the right to life. God bless you for your prayers and support. 


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Nebraska Family Alliance
Nebraska Family Alliance exists to advance family, freedom and life by influencing policy, mobilizing prayer, and empowering people.