State Senator Joni Albrecht of Thurston held a press conference at the Nebraska state capitol on Wednesday, January 11, to detail a proposed abortion ban that includes exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest.

Twenty-eight of her colleagues joined her, including Senator Mike Jacobson of North Platte.

Albrecht’s Nebraska Heartbeat Act and Nebraska Pregnancy Help Act would reduce access to abortion from 20 weeks to approximately 6 weeks. It had not yet been filed as of Friday, January 13.

A second bill would offer up to $10 million in tax credits to encourage donations to more than 25 pregnancy aid organizations across the state that provide education, food, supplies, transportation, housing and job assistance to pregnant mothers.

“Every parent remembers hearing their child’s heartbeat for the first time,” Albrecht said. “The heartbeat is a universal sign of life, and we also know that abortion stops the heartbeat.”

“For a young woman alone, that (first) heartbeat can be very scary,” Albrecht said. The staff and volunteers of the pregnancy aid organization (should) walk with her through the onslaught of emotions.

With 25 pregnancy aid organizations in every corner of the state, the free services would help women at every stage, she said.


Abortions would be prohibited as early as six weeks after detection of what is sometimes called a “fetal heartbeat,” the point at which sporadic electrical impulses can be detected that produce rhythmic pulses, like a heartbeat.

Doctors would be required to perform an ultrasound to listen to the fetal heartbeat. If a heartbeat is detected, doctors would be prohibited from aborting a live unborn baby.

A year ago, Albrecht introduced that he would have banned abortion. The bill did not pass. He received criticism that it would affect ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages or in vitro fertilization (IVF), and Albrecht said the new bill would specify that these are not affected.

State Sen. Julie Slama of Dunbar introduced a similar bill in 2022 that stalled in committee.

Dr. Robert Plambeck, a Lincoln-based OB/GYN, joined Albrecht at the press conference and said there is nothing in the bill that would prevent him from providing vital care to the mother.

“There is no question, biologically or medically, that these are two separate human beings,” said Plambeck, who specialized for 35 years. “They have their own beats. They have their own genetic makeup. They have their own medical needs. They are two separate individual humans, and both deserve compassionate and professional medical care.”

Doctors who perform abortions under the bill will not face criminal prosecution, but could have their licenses revoked. Women who seek abortions would not face penalties.

get the votes

All but one of the senators in attendance Wednesday were Republicans (Omaha Sen. Mike McDonnell). The other four Republicans on the body, state senators Tom Brandt of Plymouth, Myron Dorn of Adams, Ben Hansen of Blair and Chairman John Arch of La Vista, supported Albrecht’s 2022 bill, as did McDonnell.

This would give Albrecht 33 votes if those four and everyone in attendance gave their support, which would be enough to overcome a filibuster and become law. Still, opponents say it’s too soon to start counting the votes and hope they could block the effort.

“We have blocked abortion bans in the past here in Nebraska, and I have no doubt we can do it again,” said state Senator Megan Hunt of Omaha after the news conference.

State Senator Danielle Conrad of Lincoln said she is “always optimistic that people will bring open hearts and open minds” to discuss and understand what abortion restrictions have done to sister states.

“You’ve hurt the practice of medicine, you’ve hurt the citizens in your state, you’ve provided a chilling effect for a whole host of unintended consequences, and we can’t ignore that,” Conrad said, adding that people should let the process game.

After the news conference, Conrad, Hunt and State Senator George Dungan of Lincoln outlined what the ban would mean, especially for women of color and women who are low-income or live in rural parts of the state.

Hunt said many women may be “forced” to remain pregnant, face medical emergencies and leave the state for care.

“That’s cruel,” Hunt said. “It’s cruel and doesn’t reflect Nebraska values.”

Dungan said Wednesday’s announcement is that politicians get in the way of women’s health care decisions. She said voters told her during the campaign that’s exactly what they don’t want.

“I still consider myself a young person and I can tell you that when I have conversations with my friends and other people in my area, they say laws like this make them want to leave,” said Dungan, 38. the fourth youngest in the Legislature. “If a law like this is passed, I think we will see even more people leave and fewer people come in.”

Albrecht said state polls show that 58% of Nebraska voters, which includes nearly two-thirds of Independents and nearly half of Democrats, support a law that would protect unborn children from the moment they are detected. the beating of your heart.

Hunt has already filed LR18CA and LR19CA for voters to decide whether the Nebraska Constitution should be amended to protect reproductive liberties and prevent future restrictions.

Conrad filed LR20CA with Hunt and State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha for voters to decide whether the right to individual privacy should be enshrined in the Nebraska Constitution.

Preparing for a potential future

It remains to be seen how senators will approach the issue once the bills are officially introduced, or what tools senators might use to block the legislation if it maintains this level of support, but Albrecht said women need to be prepared.

“Hopefully, before the bill becomes law, (women) will understand that it is a six-week ban and that they need to seek professional help if they feel they are having a baby,” she said.

(He North Platte Newsletter contributed to this report).

© 2023 The North Platte Newsletter. All rights reserved.