Nebraska’s 12-week abortion law took effect on Tuesday after Republican Gov. Jim Pillen signed expansive legislation relating to abortion and transgender issues Monday.
The bill, LB 574, shrinks the state’s window for legal abortions from 20 weeks to 12, based on gestational age. The law also has exceptions for rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother.
While the bill’s abortion measures took effect immediately on Tuesday, due to an emergency clause in the bill, the measures pertaining to transgender procedures will not take effect until October. Those restrictions limit access to puberty blockers and hormone therapy for all residents under the age of 19, while outright banning gender transition procedures for the age group.
“Today is a historic day in the State of Nebraska. It is a day where we are standing up and protecting our kids so that they can have a better and brighter future,” Pillen said in a statement. “LB574 is the most significant win for social conservatives in a generation, and is part of what has been a historic legislative session with senators voting for policies that protect our kids, cut taxes, grow agriculture, and defend our Nebraska values.”
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Under the law, Nebraska’s chief medical officer will be tasked with setting rules for how a minor might qualify for access to puberty blockers or hormone therapy. Those qualifications must include setting a minimum number of therapy hours for the patient, as well as a minimum waiting period between requesting the treatment and receiving a prescription.
The ACLU and LGBT activist groups sued Missouri over a similar requirement in late April, arguing that locking transgender services behind therapy is “unprecedented and extreme.” Missouri’s rule required 15 separate therapy sessions over the course of 18 months before a patient of any age could receive transition services.
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LB 574 comes just months after Nebraska Republicans failed to pass a six-week abortion law by just one vote. Originally, LB 574 contained only the limits on transgender services and did not mention abortion, with those provisions being added in only after the death of the standalone bill.
The legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Kathleen Kauth, remarked on how the bill changed during the legislative process in a Monday statement.
“I was very pleased and proud to introduce LB574, the Let Them Grow Act, and I am so grateful to all the senators who worked with me to shape and improve the bill,” Kauth said. “Let Them Grow is all about protecting children. It was an honor to be able to use it to also protect preborn children.”
Pillen noted during Monday’s signing ceremony that Nebraska’s government stands ready to respond to any legal challenges against the bill.
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