Republican Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen is scheduled to sign a bill Monday that would ban abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy and restrict gender-affirming health care for people younger than 19.
The abortion ban would come into effect immediately after the governor’s signature, while the ban on gender-affirming care would come into effect on October 1.
Nebraska’s conservative-led unicameral Legislature passed the bill containing the two contentious issues Friday after hours of heated debate. Conservative lawmakers scrambled just enough votes to end a filibuster and pass it. Bill opponents have vowed to sue to try to block the law.
The proposal to limit gender-affirming care was the flashpoint of an epic filibuster led by Omaha Late. Machaela Cavanaugh. She and a handful of progressive allies slowed legislation to a passage by inserting amendment after amendment to every bill that reached the Senate floor. That left the leadership scrambling to prioritize which bills to push through.
The hybrid measure tied together restrictions that Republicans have sought across the United States
North Carolina also recently passed a 12-week abortion ban, among a slew of restrictions imposed in states after the US Supreme Court last year struck down the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established a nationwide right to abortion. Fourteen states have passed a ban on abortion throughout pregnancy.
Nebraska had not passed a new ban since it became the first state to restrict abortions around 20 weeks of pregnancy in 2010. The new 12-week ban will include exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother.
The bill would also prevent transgender people under 19 from getting any gender-affirming surgery. It would also limit the use of hormone replacement therapy and puberty blockers in minors, putting the state’s chief medical officer — a political appointee who is an ear, nose and throat doctor — in charge of setting the rules for those treatments. In Nebraska, people under the age of 19 are considered minors.
At least 17 states had already passed laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for minors before Monday, and proposals are pending with the governors of Texas and Missouri. Medical groups and advocates say such restrictions further marginalize transgender people and threaten their health.
A Nebraska lawmaker, Sen. Megan Hunt, R-Omaha, revealed in March that her teenage son is transgender and said Friday that she now plans to leave the state.
Supporters said they are trying to protect children from making decisions they might regret.
Associated Press writer Josh Funk in Omaha, Neb., contributed to this report.