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Nebraska Legislature Enacts New Laws to Protect Children
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Nebraska has recently enacted a law that bans abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy and prohibits gender-altering surgery for minors. The bill, signed into law by Republican Governor Jim Pillen on Monday, also regulates drugs used in gender-transition therapies for minors.
Nebraska has enacted new laws to protect children.
Governor Pillen stated that the legislation aims to protect children and save babies, emphasizing Nebraska's commitment to embracing life and love while sending a message that abortion is unacceptable in the state. He highlighted the importance of allowing children to be themselves while growing up, particularly for teenagers who may be exploring their identities.
The Let Them Grow Act was signed in the presence of over 30 out of Nebraska's 49 senators. The bill passed with a 33-15 vote along party lines in the state's unicameral Legislature, which comprises only a Senate.
This new abortion ban replaces the previous 20-week abortion ban. It includes exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest, as well as cases of medical emergencies. Ectopic pregnancies are also explicitly exempted.
State Senator Joni Albrecht expressed her support for the legislation, emphasizing the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for every human being. She expressed her hope that all children would be protected from elective abortions from the moment of conception in Nebraska.
The abortion ban is effective immediately, while an earlier attempt to pass a six-week abortion ban narrowly failed by one vote in April.
The new law also prohibits gender-altering surgery for individuals under the age of 19, which is the legal age of majority in Nebraska. Advocates of the surgeries, known as gender-confirmation surgery, argue that they are essential for affirming one's gender identity.
The bill mandates the creation of regulations by the state medical officer regarding cross-sex hormones and puberty-blocking drugs for minors, which proponents refer to as gender-affirming care. The regulations may potentially include a complete ban and will take effect on October 1.
State Senator Kathleen Kauth described the legislation as a means to protect children, and she expressed her honor in using it to safeguard unborn children as well.
Mindy Rush Chipman, the interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nebraska, stated that all options are being considered to reverse these regressive measures, including seeking legal action through the courts. Chipman argued that these bans will cause significant harm.
Opponents of the abortion ban and transgender legal reforms engaged in filibustering to delay the progress of the legislation for months. However, they fell short by one vote of the 17 votes required to halt the bill's advancement.
On Friday, hundreds of opponents, including self-identified transgender youth, gathered at the capitol to rally against the legislation, with some occupying the capitol rotunda.
The Nebraska Catholic Conference supported the legislation, with Marion Miner, the conference's associate director of Pro-life and Family Policy, providing testimony to the Senate's Health and Human Services Committee on February 8. Miner argued that a healthy culture promotes the integrity of individuals, respecting the manifestation of sex differences based on biological realities. He expressed concern that a misguided concept of gender can deny and distort these realities, causing irreversible harm to emotionally vulnerable children.
Miner emphasized the need for the law to protect children during their physiological, emotional, and spiritual development, particularly as theories of sex and gender inconsistent with nature become prevalent in popular culture. He cited Pope Francis' statements against gender ideology in support of his argument.
Miner acknowledged the importance of respecting individuals who experience incongruence between their biological sex and their gender identity, acknowledging their feelings of anxiety and lack of acceptance.
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