Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts was set to sign a bill on Saturday which would ban a common abortion procedure. The bill was passed by the Nebraska state legislature on Thursday.
The bill, LB 814, would prohibit a physician from performing a D & E, or dilation and evacuation, procedure on a woman who is seeking a second trimester abortion unless it is necessary due to a medical emergency. It makes performing a D & E a class IV felony, which is punishable by up to two years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. The bill, which refers to the procedure as “dismemberment abortion,” was filibustered at every available step by opponents, but nonetheless passed the legislature by a 33-8 vote.
The bill places liability only on the physician who actually performs the procedure; the woman seeking the abortion, nurses, assistants, clinic staff, and pharmacists involved in the procedure are all protected. The bill also provides a cause of action for both injunctive relief and civil damages against the physician. A civil suit may be brought by the woman who sought the abortion, by the woman’s husband, or, if the woman was not yet 19 years old or died during the procedure, the woman’s parents.
Meg Mikolajczyk, legal counsel for Planned Parenthood North Central States, chastised the Nebraska legislature for focusing on getting this bill passed during the covid-19 pandemic. “Instead of wasting precious time interfering with personal health care decisions, they should have been focused on finding solutions that help move our state forward,” she said in a statement. ACLU of Nebraska released a statement via Twitter which read in part, “Whether through the courts or the Capitol, we are committed to doing everything we can to protect access to abortion care in Nebraska. . . . Bottom line, we don’t back down from fights and this fight isn’t over.”