Today, the Office of Governor Ricketts released a press release highlighting broad support from state officials and advocacy groups for the Governor’s Pro-Life budget initiative to end taxpayer subsidies of abortion clinics.

In the Governor’s 2018 budget proposal, LB944, there is a provision to prohibit Title X funds from being distributed to an organization that “performs, assists with the performance of, provides directive counseling in favor of, or refers for abortion.”

Although taxpayer funding of abortion is illegal, taxpayer money subsidizes the abortion industry in Nebraska via Title X funds. When Congress initiated the Title X grant program, its expressed will was that funds would not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning. However, over the years millions of taxpayer dollars have been distributed to abortion clinics.

The proposed reform to Title X in the state budget bill provides basic accountability that ensures taxpayer dollars don’t subsidize abortion. No Title X provider loses access to funds as long as they are separate from the abortion industry, and the same amount of government funds will remain available for women and men who use Title X services.

The Governor’s press release includes statements of support from several key state senators whose support is necessary for this pro-life provision to remain in the state budget bill and pass into law. This is welcome news that is being celebrated widely by pro-life Nebraskans and advocacy groups.

Media Release:

State Officials, Groups Announce Support for Pro-Life Budget Initiative

Governor Pete Ricketts: “Nebraska is a pro-life state, and the state’s budget should reflect those values. We already have language in our budget to ensure other funds do not get spent on abortions. Our proposal takes a logical next step: If you provide abortion services or refer or provide directive counsel for abortions, you cannot receive Title X funding. This helps ensure taxpayer dollars will not subsidize abortions directly or indirectly. Facilities that focus on providing life-giving healthcare, not abortion services, should receive our Title X tax dollars.”

Lt. Governor Mike Foley: “By preventing clinics that provide abortion services from receiving Title X funds, Nebraska is sending the message that we are a state that respects unborn life. The Governor and I strongly urge State Senators to enact this recommendation, and we look forward to working with them to help Nebraska’s budget reflect our pro-life values.”

Senator Joni Albrecht: “The right to life is fundamental to who we are as Americans. This change to Title X funding is an important step to ensure that this right is protected in Nebraska.”

Senator Lydia Brasch: “As a mother and a grandmother, I understand how precious life is and how important it is for us to stand up for our most vulnerable every day. Throughout my service over the last seven years, I’ve worked to protect unborn life in Nebraska. I’d like to thank Governor Ricketts for this proposal and urge my colleagues to adopt it.”

Senator Tom Brewer: “Title X dollars should not subsidize the abortion industry. These changes are common sense and reasonable. I fully support the proposal and urge the Appropriations Committee to adopt it.”

Senator Rob Clements: “The budget language offered by Governor Ricketts is a much-needed step toward ensuring that Nebraska taxpayer dollars do not subsidize abortions. I urge my fellow senators to join the effort to revise the distribution of Title X funding and protect innocent unborn life.”

Senator Steve Erdman: “The first duty of government is to protect life. These changes to the distribution of Title X funds fulfill that duty in a clear way. I look forward to working with my fellow State Senators to defend life and get these changes made this session.”

Senator Suzanne Geist: “As a state, we must continue to take steps to protect innocent life. The Governor’s recommendation maintains Nebraska’s commitment to quality care while protecting the integrity of Title X dollars and ensuring they are used to keep Nebraskans healthy.”

Senator Mike Groene: “Nebraskans expect our state’s Title X budget provision to mirror the 1970 federal Public Health Service Act’s language that forbids grants be disbursed to family planning clinics that perform, assist, counsel, or refer for abortions. Nebraskans, by far, are pro-life and they demand that their federal tax dollars will not be used to fund abortions. They must be assured that Title X funding grants will only go to family clinics that promote healthy pregnancies and family health. Therefore, I fully support the Governor’s proposed budget language.”

Senator Steve Halloran: “Nebraska is a pro-life state, and District 33 is a pro-life district. I am glad to fight for the right to life in Nebraska which each citizen, born or unborn, holds. This new Title X language will create a much-needed and clear separation between the abortion industry and our taxpayer dollars.”

Senator Bob Hilkemann: “As a medical professional and proud father and grandfather, I feel a duty to stand up for unborn life. I support the Governor’s recommendation to change the distribution of Title X funding, which will help our budget reflect our pro-life values.”

Senator Dan Hughes: “Title X funding is a resource for Nebraska to support healthcare that promotes and protects life. Previous legislatures have put a similar pro-life safeguard in place for Health Aid, and it is time for Senators to step up and do the same for Title X.”

Senator Mark Kolterman: “Title X funds are meant to save and protect lives, and that’s why we as legislators have an obligation to ensure they are properly managed in the budget. This new budget language supports this goal and our pro-life values. I proudly support it.”

Senator John Kuehn: “Title X funds are essential to providing access to preventative health and family planning services. Directing these critical health care dollars toward their intent and away from abortion providers protects this essential women’s health program.”

Senator Tyson Larson: “The primary responsibility of government is to protect society and the Nebraskans we serve—including the unborn. Taxpayer dollars should not directly or indirectly fund abortion services, and this pro-life budget language helps accomplish that goal.”

Senator Brett Lindstrom: “Life is precious, and as public servants, we should be constantly working to protect innocent life in our society. Good financial controls, such as this reform to Title X, can help our state budget recognize the dignity of unborn life and protect the most vulnerable lives among us.”

Senator Lou Ann Linehan: “The Governor’s proposed changes to Title X funding protect the existing program’s integrity and give Nebraska taxpayers peace of mind about how the state is managing their taxpayer dollars.”

Senator John Murante: “I’m proud to be pro-life and a fiscal conservative. The truth is, you can’t claim to be either if you support giving tax dollars to abortion providers.”

Senator Merv Riepe: “Title X dollars provide basic prenatal and reproductive healthcare, but in the past, Nebraska funds have been spent on abortion services. We must have this financial control to ensure this doesn’t happen.”

Senator Theresa Thibodeau: “Thank you to Governor Ricketts for making this a priority in the budget. This reform protects current Title X funding while sending a clear message that Nebraska is a pro-life state.”

Senator Dan Watermeier: “Last year, the Legislature returned to its tradition of passing new pro-life legislation with the ‘Choose Life’ license plate. I endorse the new steps recommended by Governor Ricketts, so that our budget reflects our state’s values. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this critical pro-life initiative.”

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services CEO Courtney Phillips: “Under the Governor’s proposal, we will continue to provide access to needed healthcare in communities across Nebraska and reassure taxpayers that their dollars are being administered in alignment with our State’s values. DHHS has administered this funding for over forty-five years to further our mission of helping people live better lives, and we will continue to do so.”

Nebraska Public Health Director and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom Williams: “The Department of Health & Human Services has provided Title X funds to communities across the state since 1971. This revision to the distribution formula reflects our state’s values, and Nebraskans will continue to receive the quality care they need.”

Nebraska Right to Life Executive Director Julie Schmit-Albin: “Passage of pro-life language in the Governor’s budget package would ensure that Title X funds are dispersed fairly to entities that are not in the business of performing abortions. The provisions in the budget language create a firewall between abortion advocacy and the state’s disbursement of federal Title X funds.”

Nebraska Family Alliance Executive Director Karen Bowling: “Although taxpayer funding of abortion is illegal, taxpayer money supports the abortion industry in Nebraska through the distribution of Title X federal funds. Nebraska Family Alliance proudly supports Governor Ricketts’ pro-life initiative to end taxpayer subsidies of abortion facilities. This initiative reflects the will of pro-life Nebraskans.”

Students for Life Midwest Regional Coordinator Savannah Falter: “Considered the ‘pro-life generation,’ millennials adamantly support reforms in the structure of funding provided through Title X. We believe no portion of Title X monies should be allocated to abortion services or associated referrals. Furthermore, it should be understood that funding the operating activities of many abortion facilities effectively subsidizes their abortion-related activities. Title X reforms should clarify that the use of taxpayer funding should not directly, or indirectly, support the termination of unborn life.”

Nebraska Catholic Conference Executive Director Tom Venzor: “This provision is strong, pro-life public policy that finally ends the use of Title X money to prop up and finance the abortion industry in our state. This will ensure that organizations and facilities that perform, counsel for, or refer for abortion will no longer receive state money through Title X, until they separate their abortion activity from their Title X activity.”

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Nate Grasz

Nate Grasz

Policy Director
Nate is the Policy Director at Nebraska Family Alliance and host of the Capitol Report program.