Joined by hundreds of pro-life Nebraskans, Senator Joni Albrecht, Senator Carolyn Bosn, Governor Jim Pillen, and numerous state senators urged the Nebraska Legislature to advance LB 626, the Nebraska Heartbeat Act.
The “Advance the Heartbeat Act Press Conference and Rally” was held on the north steps of the Nebraska State Capitol building on Wednesday, April 12th, in-between legislative debate on the bill and co-hosted by Nebraska Catholic Conference, Nebraska Family Alliance, Nebraska Right to Life, and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. The bright and sunny event drew families from across the state and took on a celebratory tone as children wove through the estimated crowd of 300.
Senator Joni Albrecht, the introducer of LB 626, said, “I want to thank everyone who’s standing here today and all of the Nebraskans who have been praying for the last 50 years for these babies with beating hearts to be saved. We’re going to protect those babies with beating hearts, and this is a monumental day in the State of Nebraska!”
The Nebraska Heartbeat Act would require that a doctor, before proceeding with any abortion, first perform an ultrasound in accordance with standard medical practice to listen for a fetal heartbeat. If a heartbeat is present, an abortion may not be performed except in cases of rape, incest, or medical emergencies. LB 626 has 29 co-sponsors, and a recent statewide poll revealed that 58% of Nebraskans support legislation protecting preborn babies once a heartbeat is detected.
In his comments to the crowd, Governor Jim Pillen said, “We, without question, have an overwhelming majority of people who are one-hundred percent pro-life and believe in babies’ right to live. [LB 626] is a priority for me as your governor—that we get this across the finish line—and today is the start.”
Newly-appointed Senator Carolyn Bosn, who filled a vacancy in District 25 left by Senator Geist, signed on to the bill on her first day in office and gave her maiden floor speech in support of LB 626. She said, “LB 626 is common sense, life-affirming legislation. It makes sense to me not only as a former prosecutor but also as a mother who has cherished hearing the heartbeat of my children during ultrasounds. I look forward this evening to joining my colleagues in supporting LB 626 and protecting babies with beating hearts.”
The bill does not impose criminal or civil penalties for physicians who perform abortions. Instead, a physician who violates this law will have their medical license subject to discipline like any other instance of serious unprofessional conduct outlined in Nebraska law.
Dr. Elena Kraus, a Nebraska OB/GYN and maternal-fetal specialist, supported the science underlying LB 626 and underscored the legislation’s support for physicians to exercise their medical judgment.
“Always paramount for me is consideration of the health and safety of the women, yet with care and concern for the human dignity of their unborn babies,” said Kraus. “The Nebraska Heartbeat Act gives broad latitude to physicians in the many difficult and complex medical situations we encounter. I cannot think of a high-risk medical situation where this bill would restrict the available and recommended treatments to patients when based on sound medical reasoning.”
Katie Patrick, a Lincoln mom of three, described the joy and excitement she felt when she first heard her baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasound. “Hearing her little heart beating was an exciting moment—and a relieving one too—because it affirmed the little life that was growing inside of me,” she said.
“Nebraska PHOs stand ready to serve women and their children during pregnancy and beyond,” said Laura Buddenberg, who has worked for over three decades with pregnancy help organizations (PHOs). “We believe providing life-affirming support to women experiencing unexpected or under-supported pregnancies helps women and their families flourish and builds a stronger Nebraska.”
Later that evening, the Nebraska Legislature voted to advance the bill to the next round of debate on a 33-16 vote. LB 626 must go through two more rounds of debate before it is sent to Governor Pillen’s desk.