Friday, April 16, 2010

Nebraska's Attack on Choice

Lately, anti-choice measures have appeared frequently in the news. First, there was Utah’s intention to create a bill that would charge women if their reckless behavior led to a miscarriage. Now, the state of Nebraska has jumped onto the anti-choice train. Governor Dave Heineman signed a law on Tuesday, April 13th that banned most abortions after 20 weeks. Heineman signed this law in the beliefs of a theory that the fetus by that point in pregnancy is able to feel pain. This law has sparked debate between pro-choice and anti-choice groups. What makes this scary is that the legislative branch passed this law with 44 votes to 5 votes. Dr. Leroy Carhart, a partner of the late Dr. Tiller, said he would continue to offer late-term abortions in his Nebraska clinic. The NY Times quoted lawmakers as being outraged that Nebraska was going to become the “late-term abortion capital of the Midwest.”

This law will take effect in October and will ban abortions anytime after a gestation period of 20 weeks. The law does allow late-term abortions in the cases of a medical emergency, usually something that would cause death to the mother.

Legal battles have already ensued over this law. These legal battles refer to the 1973 case of Roe V. Wade case which stated that no state could ban abortions prior to fetal viability. Some articles reported this as 22 weeks and some reported it as 24 weeks. Nebraska’s law would go against the stipulations provided by the landmark abortion case. In the weeks leading up to the vote, over 1,000 people over the nation signed the Trust Women PAC’s petition that called for legislators to reject the bill.

The heat of this battle is not expected to die down and the legal battles are expected to go to the Supreme Court. It is estimated that 5 of 9 of the Supreme Court justices would consider Nebraska’s claim and judge that it is a legitimate law.

This has been a huge attack on women and abortion providers. If this law is upheld in the Supreme Court, it would give other states the same opportunity to introduce the same type of bill, threatening women’s health everywhere. If the Supreme Court does legitimize this law, it would violate parts of Roe V. Wade, which would cause a huge step back in the progress of abortion rights that we have made since 1973. If this law stays in place, it will spread to other states as well and it will be a large threat to women everywhere. This law is a direct attack on the right to choose and is one that challenges Roe V. Wade. This law is also an attack on Dr. Carhart and his clinic. Carhart provides a vital service to women. This law limits his services and womens' access to abortion.

The following link is the article to the NY Times article referenced:

Nebraska Law Sets New Limits on Abortion

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