Petition Drive Set To Begin To Put Abortion Rights Constitutional Amendment On Ballot

      A petition drive is underway to send a constitutional amendment to Nebraska voters next year declaring abortion as a fundamental right until fetal viability or when needed to protect the life or health of the pregnant.

     The Secretary of State’s Office yesterday released the language for the measure, which will need around 125,000 valid signatures from registered voters by next summer to get it on the November 2024 ballot.

     Protect Our Rights, a coalition of civil rights and advocacy groups, is leading the petition drive and holding a campaign kickoff today in Omaha.

     Spokesman Ashlei Spivey says the language of the constitutional amendment was shaped by medical experts and by where most Nebraskans stand on the abortion issue.

      Spivey says that “Unlike the state officials working to totally ban abortion, we’re elevating the voices and lived experiences of Nebraskans who believe that pregnant people should be able to access needed care with compassion and privacy.

      She adds that it will ensure that these personal decisions “stay free from political interference and  stay with Nebraskans — not politicians.” 

      Three of the leading anti-abortion groups – the Nebraska Catholic Conference, Nebraska Right to Life and the Nebraska Family Alliance – issued a joint statement yesterday calling the measure “a flawed initiative” and “an extreme amendment.”

     The statement claims the measure “would radically expand abortion in Nebraska, resulting in the deaths of thousands of babies in mothers’ wombs” and calling it  totally out of step with the pro-life principles of the overwhelming majority of Nebraskans.”

      They point to what they call the “strong and reasonable” 12-week abortion ban passed by the legislature earlier this year. Governor Jim Pillen and several legislative leaders have vowed to fight for either a 6-week or total ban on abortions.

       The opponents also claim the measure would open the way for abortions as late a 39-weeks and allow girls not old enough to get their ears pierced to obtain abortions without their parents even knowing, much less giving approval.

       Nearly identical accusations were made against a similar constitutional amendment in Ohio that passed earlier this month with about 60% support.