The writer, of Omaha, is a state senator representing District 8 in the Nebraska Legislature.
Last Sunday, the Omaha World-Herald published an editorial calling for “responsible adult behavior” in the Legislature. By introducing an extreme anti-abortion bill on the first day, some of my colleagues have taken the opposite approach. With all the urgent issues facing our state, senators chose to introduce a radical bill making it a crime for doctors to use their best medical judgment for women requiring abortion care.
Legislative Bill 814 implements a method ban for a common medical procedure, pushing legal abortion care out of reach for more Nebraskans. A woman’s health, not politics, should guide important medical decisions at every point in pregnancy. This is about politicians interfering with doctors’ abilities to use their best medical judgment to provide the care that is best for their patients.
We only have 60 days for the legislative session. Sixty days to provide constituents with property tax relief, new business incentives and desperately needed flood relief. We have overcrowded prisons, underfunded schools and unacceptable facilities for our youth in the juvenile justice system. These are the issues we need to address — not targeting women’s health care.
This session will require dedicated and measured engagement on every bill before us. Lawmakers and stakeholders have spent the past year overcoming differences and having tough conversations to find consensus on consequential issues. Introducing a restrictive abortion bill in this short session foolishly throws the success of all of these important issues into limbo and is out of step with what most Nebraskans want.
Many of my colleagues and I are disappointed, but not surprised. We’ve seen this all before. The Legislature considered a similar bill two years ago and it stalled in committee. Lawmakers have no place interfering in women’s health care decisions — and we certainly don’t know better than doctors or the woman herself. The decision about whether and when to become a parent is one of the most important decisions we ever make; that decision must always remain with a woman, her family and her faith.
I came into the session ready to tackle major issues, but not at the expense of the right to health care. Health care advocates inside and outside of the Unicameral are ready, and we will not allow reproductive rights to be further stripped away from Nebraskans.
For us to succeed this year, we need to take seriously our power to make meaningful change for our constituents. It’s time for us to show Nebraskans that we understand their concerns and solve their problems. To do so, it is going to take responsible, adult behavior. By interfering with the right to reproductive health care, we’re not off to a good start.