LINCOLN — Legislation aimed at helping women who change their minds halfway through a medication abortion stalled Monday in the face of a filibuster.
But State Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston, who introduced Legislative Bill 209, expressed confidence that she has enough votes to cut off the extended debate and advance the bill.
“Possibly four or five more” votes than the 33 needed, she said.
Albrecht’s proposal is this year’s top priority for abortion opponents. Similar measures have been passed in at least eight other states, she said.
Supporters argued that LB 209 could save lives and offer hope to women who don’t want to go through with a medication abortion.
“We’re giving women a second choice to think about what they just did,” said Sen. John Lowe of Kearney. “We’re also giving a second choice to a little baby.”
But opponents said the bill offers false hope to women and represents government interference with the doctor-patient relationship.
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln said informed consent is important in health care, but “these are attempts to shame women.”
As introduced, LB 209 would have required that women getting medication-induced abortions be told that the process may be reversed if they seek treatment quickly.
As amended by the Judiciary Committee, the measure no longer includes language about reversing abortion. Instead, it would require that women be told that mifepristone, the first drug of a medication abortion, may not end a pregnancy and that it may not be too late to continue their pregnancy.
Both versions of the bill would refer women to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services website for help finding treatment.
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Albrecht said she introduced the bill to give women hope and “another chance to choose life.”
She pointed to evidence showing that it may be possible to continue a pregnancy if a woman gets high doses of progesterone within 72 hours of taking mifepristone, the first abortion drug, and if she has not taken misoprostol, the second drug.
But opponents of LB 209 said the evidence comes from cases reported by a California doctor in 2018, not from rigorous scientific studies.
Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha questioned whether the progesterone treatment makes a difference for women who take it. She noted that pregnancy continues for up to 50% of women who take mifepristone alone.
She also said state law does not mandate what doctors tell patients about other health care procedures and should not be doing so for abortions.
Medication abortions can be done during the first 10 weeks of a pregnancy. Typically, women take the first medication in a clinic and are directed to take the second one at home, anywhere from 6 to 48 hours later.
Meet the Nebraska state senators
Here are the 49 state senators of Nebraska's 106th Legislature. You can click here to find your state senator.