The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly
Recent public policy developments at the state and federal level can be
categorized as the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ll address these in reverse
order so I can end on a positive note.
Last Sunday’s vote in the House of Representatives to adopt the Senate’s
healthcare bill has pro-life groups and the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops (USCCB) deeply concerned about the expanded access and funding for
abortion that will result from enactment of this bill.
President Obama’s last-minute promise of an Executive Order supposedly to
restrict abortion funding was unfortunately enough to secure the votes of
Congressman Bart Stupak and a few other pro-life Democrats. Legal experts
seem to agree that an Executive Order is effectively meaningless; it cannot
trump statutory law. This means we’re stuck for now with the seriously
flawed abortion and conscience language in the Senate bill.
The seriousness of the Bishops’ concern is evidenced by the fact that
despite decades of advocacy for healthcare reforms, in the end the USCCB
urged House members to oppose the Senate bill because of its serious flaws
on abortion and conscience rights. In a statement prior to the vote,
Cardinal Francis George said the Senate bill “expands federal funding and
the role of the federal government in the provision of abortion procedures.
“In so doing, it forces all of us to become involved in an act that
profoundly violates the conscience of many, the deliberate destruction of
unwanted members of the human family still waiting to be born.” As a result,
the bishops concluded that the “cost is too high” and the “loss too great”
to support the Senate bill with its serious flaws.
Sadly, in the closing days before the vote, the Catholic Health Association
and a group of nuns announced support for the Senate bill in contradiction
of our bishops and based on erroneous claims that the bill does not fund
abortions. This dissent from our shepherds undoubtedly contributed to the
passage of a deeply flawed bill that many of us fear will be the largest
expansion of abortion access and funding since Roe v. Wade.
Last week, LB 1110 was pulled from our state Legislature’s agenda by its
sponsor Sen. Kathy Campbell due to insufficient support by fellow senators
and strong opposition (and veto threat) by Governor Heineman. This bill
would have continued Nebraska’s longstanding policy of providing prenatal
care services to unborn children in impoverished families regardless of the
mother’s immigration status.
Tragically, some providers of prenatal care services are reporting that
several women have had or are considering having abortions at least in part
due to the loss of prenatal care services. These reports are causing some
senators to look for new ways to resurrect and adopt LB 1110, a move my
office strongly supports.
In the meantime, we must urgently persuade mothers who may be considering
abortion due to the loss of prenatal care services to reject this act of
violence. My office is working with others to make sure these mothers know
that there are agencies and providers who will find a way to provide them
with needed prenatal services.
Now for some good news. Last week, the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee
advanced two pro-life bills for debate and vote by the full Legislature. The
Women’s Health Protection Act (LB 594) would require abortionists to screen
women for risk factors that could increase their likelihood of having
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (LB 1103) prohibits abortions
(with narrow exceptions) after 20 of gestation, the point at which
compelling evidence suggests the unborn child can experience pain.
These bills could come up for debate as soon as the week of March 29. I urge
readers to contact your state senator as soon as possible and urge him/her
to support both bills. More information on these bills and an action alert
is available online at www.nebcathcon.org.
2013 Southern Nebraska Register Publication Dates
(Resume Jan 4, 2014)
November 27 (Wed.)