On the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Aug. 15) and surrounded by hundreds of pro-life friends and advocates, Governor Pete Ricketts enthusiastically signed into law LB814 which outlaws the dismemberment abortion procedure. This moment marked another major victory for the pro-life movement in Nebraska. Nebraskans have furthered a deeper understanding in our laws and throughout the culture more broadly that both the life of the unborn child and their mother are to be protected and cherished. As the pro-life adage goes: “Love them both.”
While the legislation is now sealed into law, the path to victory was always anything but certain. From the outset, we had an uphill climb to reach the 33 votes needed to overcome a filibuster led by pro-choice zealots whose opposition was sinister.
Passing LB814 under these circumstances required tenacious pro-life leadership and the teamwork of various Senators who deserve recognition for their efforts.
First and foremost, Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln undertook courageous efforts to sponsor and prioritize LB814. She carried this legislation from beginning to end with her trademark poise and eloquence. While dealing with barbaric subject matter, she articulated the importance of banning an abortion procedure that dismembers a living unborn human being. Rather than being drawn away by the ludicrous assertions of pro-abortionists, she maintained focus on the unborn child, the life of the mother, and the vocation of healing that belongs to the practice of medicine.
Additionally, Sen. Mike Hilgers of Lincoln did yeoman’s work throughout every round of debate. A brilliant legal mind, Sen. Hilgers cogently defended the constitutionality of LB814. While opponents to LB814 regularly engaged in shoddy legal reasoning, often citing irrelevant or unauthoritative legal arguments, Sen. Hilgers carefully walked through the relevant legal analysis and demonstrated why LB814 is likely to be ruled as a constitutional restriction on the so-called right to abortion manufactured by Roe v. Wade. Sen. Hilgers was joined in this effort by Sen. Andrew La Grone of Gretna.
Sen. John Arch of Papillion also did an able job walking through the science and medical research on issues such as fetal pain and other forms of abortion.
Important floor speeches supporting LB814 were also given by Senators John Lowe (Kearney), Julie Slama (Peru), Tom Brewer (Gordon), Mike Moser (Columbus), Bruce Bostelman (Brainard), Steve Halloran (Hastings), Joni Albrecht (Thurston), Dave Murman (Glenvil), Tim Gragert (Creighton), Sue Crawford (Bellevue), Steve Erdman (Bayard), Mike Groene (North Platte), Ben Hansen (Blair), and Robert Clements (Elmwood).
Other Senators who voted in support of LB814 were Tom Brandt (Plymouth), Tom Briese (Albion), Myron Dorn (Adams), Curt Friesen (Henderson), Bob Hilkemann (Omaha), Dan Hughes (Venango), Mark Kolterman (Seward), Brett Lindstrom (Omaha), Lou Ann Linehan (Omaha), Mike McDonnell (Omaha), Dan Quick (Grand Island), John Stinner (Gering), Lynne Walz (Fremont), Matt Williams (Gothenburg) and Speaker Jim Scheer (Norfolk).
Speaker Scheer is to be praised for ensuring that LB814 received full and fair debate throughout the legislative process and had the opportunity to pass. Leadership matters.
Actively opposing the legislation during floor debate were Senators Megan Hunt (Omaha), Machaela Cavanaugh (Omaha), Tony Vargas (Omaha), Wendy DeBoer (Omaha), Sara Howard (Omaha), Ernie Chambers (Omaha), John McCollister (Omaha), Adam Morfeld (Lincoln), Patty Pansing Brooks (Lincoln), and Matt Hansen (Lincoln).
Perhaps the most tragic opposition came from Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue. After temporarily supporting the legislation for two rounds, Sen. Blood did a complete 180-turn and attempted a last minute sabotage of the legislation, making numerous fallacious arguments against the bill and telling pro-life advocates “shame on you” for supporting the bill. At the time, her eleventh-hour withdrawal of her support would have “killed” the legislation and prevented it from passing. But—providentially!—another Senator who had been absent from debate arrived just in time to provide the critical 33rd vote in support of the bill.
Several other Senators were “Present Not Voting” which is often considered by many as opposition. These Senators included Kate Bolz (Lincoln), Rick Kolowski (Omaha), Steve Lathrop (Omaha), and Anna Wishart (Lincoln).
What is clear is that the Lord provided His grace throughout the effort. He offered just what we needed, when we needed it. As the Psalmist says: “By the Lord has this been done, and it is a marvel to our eyes.”