Nebraska bans dismemberment abortions; procedure not welcomed in ‘civilized society,’ says governor

Pete Ricketts
Republican Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. |

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has signed a bill into law that largely bans dismemberment abortions, declaring that the procedure should not exist “in a humane, civilized society.”

The state’s unicameral legislature voted 33-8 on Thursday to pass LB814, which bans dilation and evacuation abortions save in the event of a life-threatening medical emergency.

“It shall be unlawful for any person to purposely perform or attempt to perform a dismemberment abortion and thereby kill an unborn child unless a dismemberment abortion is necessary due to a medical emergency,” reads the bill.

“No woman upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted to be performed shall be liable for performing or attempting to perform a dismemberment abortion. No nurse, secretary, receptionist, or other employee or agent who is not a physician, but who acts at the direction of a physician, shall be liable for performing or attempting to perform a dismemberment abortion.”

Ricketts signed the bill into law on Saturday, saying in a statement that “Nebraska is a pro-life state, and this week the Legislature took an important step to strengthen our culture of life.”

“[Senator Suzanne Geist’s] bill bans the horrific procedure of dismemberment abortion, which tears apart a living baby’s body limb by limb,” stated the governor.

“This brutal procedure has no place in a humane, civilized society. I commend Sen. Geist, and the bill’s supporters in the Unicameral, for outlawing this barbaric practice in Nebraska.”

The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union denounced the bill in a series of posts to Twitter, promising to overturn the new law.

“LB 814 disregards Nebraskans’ health and undermines their freedom to make personal decisions in consultation with their physicians,” tweeted the ACLU of Nebraska.

“It puts a narrow ideological agenda over patient health. It makes it a crime for doctors to use their best medical judgment.”

Ricketts voiced support for a dismemberment abortion ban in a column published in March, labeling it a “barbaric procedure” that “literally rips apart a preborn child.”

“Imagine watching a sleeping baby girl peacefully suck her thumb inside of her mother’s womb. Then consider the horror of seeing that same baby girl flail her tiny arms and legs as an abortionist uses forceps to clutch at her body,” wrote Ricketts.

“Senators have the opportunity this session to act quickly and decisively to end this horrendous form of abortion.”

Dismemberment abortion bans have previously been passed in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.

Although courts have typically blocked or struck down such legislation, a decision earlier this month by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit allowed for Arkansas’ ban to take effect on Aug. 28.

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