As expected, Republican Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen signed a bill into law on Monday that would both restrict sex-based care for young people and ban abortions at 12 weeks gestation.
The abortion ban goes into effect immediately, and restrictions on transgender health care for those under the age of 19 go into effect on October 1. Unlike most states, Nebraska law considers anyone in this age group a minor.
“Today is a historic day in the state of Nebraska. “It’s a day to stand up and protect our children so they can have a brighter and brighter future,” Pillen said in a statement opinionHe described the passage of the law as “the most important victory for the social conservatives in a generation”.
The original draft bill focused on banning transgender people under the age of 19 from having gender confirmation surgeries. Although Republican lawmakers and the conservative media have sounded the alarm about such surgeries on minors, they are extreme unusual. The bill also gives the state’s health chief — who is neither an elected official nor a transgender health care specialist — the power to issue regulations on the use of puberty blockers or hormone treatments for this age group.
But after an attempt at a six-week abortion ban failed in Parliament, Republicans inserted an amendment to the Transgender Health Care Act that would ban abortions after 12 weeks — angering Democrats, who called it an abuse of the legislative process.
In the final debate on the issue on Friday, opponents of the abortion ban accused its supporters of hastily passing the amendment without proper hearing and violating rules about grouping unrelated issues into one bill.
“The reason the abortion part was added was because the transgender part couldn’t be passed without it … and obviously the abortion bill couldn’t be passed without the transgender bill because we had to bring it back to life.” It is a zombie bill,” State Senator John Cavanaugh (D) said during Friday’s debate.
State Senator Kathleen Kauth, the author of the bill, argued in one opinion Monday that the change is relevant because it is “all about protecting children.”
Democrats also raised concerns about the power the bill gives to the state’s chief medical officer, who is a political appointee.
“For the CMO to be empowered to make rules and regulations governing individuals’ access to healthcare is an absolutely unlawful and unconstitutional exercise of our powers as legislatures,” State Senator George Duncan (D) argued Friday.
Opponents of the bill have also pointed to the more obvious concern: that gender-affirming hormone treatments for teens will significantly reduce their life expectancy high risk from depression, suicide and other mental health problems; and that the 12-week ban on abortion is not enough time for many patients to seek treatment, particularly as wait times at appointments across the country following the fall of Roe v. calves have risen.
But some supporters of the bill said on Friday they wish the abortion ban could have been more restrictive.
“Many of us believe the six-week ‘heartbeat’ bill was the answer,” State Senator John Lowe (R) said during the debate. “As a compromise, we waive six weeks.”