On the first day of the Nebraska Unicameral’s legislative session, state Sen. Suzanne Geist introduced a bill that would ban a common procedure used for second-trimester abortions.
The bill, introduced Jan. 8, seeks to ban dilation and evacuation abortions, or “dismemberment abortions” as the bill calls them.
“Dismemberment abortion means an abortion in which, with the purpose of causing the death of an unborn child, a person purposely dismembers the body of a living unborn child and extracts him or her one piece at a time from the uterus through use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush, or grasp a portion of the unborn child's body to cut or rip it off,” the bill says.
The bill would make an exception for cases in which the mother’s life is at risk by continuing a pregnancy, or for cases in which a physician determines there is “serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function” should the mother continue a pregnancy.
Only doctors performing dismemberment abortions would face sanctions under the bill; it would not seek to punish women seeking or undergoing the procedure, or any staff assisting the physician, including nurses or pharmacists.
“Regardless of our individual opinions on the issue of abortion, I think we can all agree that no living human being should be torn apart limb by limb,” Geist said at a Jan. 8 press conference, NET News reported.
The bill comes at a time when several other states have passed or introduced bills that restrict abortion in some way, while other states are scrambling to expand access to abortion, in anticipation of a possible overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the U.S.
Some bills restricting abortion have passed state legislatures, but have been blocked in court.
Geist has said she is not concerned about judicial appeals of the bill.
“My job is to legislate, not to worry about what the courts are going to do,” the state senator told NET News.
The bill was introduced on the same day that Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts declared the anniversary of Roe v. Wade as a day of prayer for the state of Nebraska.
“Nebraska state law states that it is ‘the will of the people of the State of Nebraska and the members of the Legislature to provide protection for the life of the unborn child whenever possible,’” Ricketts said in a proclamation.
“Nebraskans display our pro-life values in a multitude of ways from the crisis pregnancy centers that provide free care for expecting parents to the prayer vigils held across the state every year.”
The governor encouraged Nebraskans to pray according to their own faith tradition for an end to abortion, as well as to “take direct action to aid mothers, fathers and families in need, especially those expecting a child who cannot provide for themselves.”