Nebraska Republican Governor Jim Pillen on Monday signed one of the most contentious bills in state history – banning abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy and restricting gender-affirming medical care for people younger than 19.
The abortion ban took effect immediately upon signing while the ban on gender-affirming care takes effect on Oct. 1. The hybrid measure ties together restrictions that Republicans have pursued across the U.S.
Pillen called the law “the most significant win for social conservative agenda in over a generation of Nebraska,” adding “It’s about protecting our kids and saving babies. Pure and simple.” Pillen signed the law while holding the 5-day-old daughter of friends as his two oldest granddaughters stood next to him.
Opponents have promised to sue to try and block the law. Mindy Rush Chipman, head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, said in a statement that “every option is on the table to undo these regressive measures.”
Rush Chipman said Pillen’s signing the sweeping restrictions into law shows “a total disregard for Nebraskans’ freedom, health and well-being, (and) will result in significant harm, most intensely hurting already vulnerable communities.”
Nebraska had not passed a new abortion ban since 2010, when it became the first state to limit the procedure at around 20 weeks of pregnancy. The 12-week ban does include exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother.
State Senator Joni Albrecht of Thurston, one of the most vocal and adamant opponents of abortion, also spoke at the signing ceremony, wiping away tears as she said she hopes to eventually enact a ban at all stages of pregnancy.
The new law also prevents transgender people under 19 from receiving any gender-confirming surgery, and it restricts the use of hormone treatments and puberty blockers in minors,
The rules on hormone treatments and puberty blockers will be drawn up by the politically-appointed state chief medical officer – currently an ear, nose and throat doctor who has publicly opposed such medical procedures and practices.