Nebraska legislators heard testimony Wednesday during a judiciary committee hearing on two pieces of legislation that would implement new regulations for the state’s abortion providers.
LB 114, sponsored by state Sen. Beau McCoy (R-Omaha), would require that any facility that provides five or more abortions in a month, or one or more second- or third- trimester abortions, be defined as an ambulatory surgical center.
Under current state law, ambulatory surgical centers are required to meet state and federal standards for surgical outpatient facilities, as well as have written agreements with a hospital that patients will be transferred to in case of an emergency beyond the capabilities of clinic staff.
During the hearing, McCoy said he sponsored the bill out of concern for the health and safety of women.
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“I think we would agree we would want anyone who would enter the doors of an abortion clinic to hopefully have the same standard of care they would receive in any other clinical environment across Nebraska,” McCoy said, reported the Associated Press.
Rob Moore, regional organizer at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said the legislation is one of a growing number of laws around that country that are intended to limit access to reproductive health care.
“They’re trying to put in as many restrictions as they can to make them so cost-burdensome they can’t be open,” Moore said, according to the AP.
LB 114 is what’s known as a targeted regulations of abortion providers (TRAP) bill, a type of legislation designed to single out abortion clinics and providers and subject them to regulations that are more stringent than those applied to medical clinics generally.
Dozens of TRAP bills have been introduced in state legislatures in the past few years, as well-funded and politically powerful anti-choice groups push the regulations through legislative allies.
Members of the committee questioned witnesses about how much new licenses would cost facilities in equipment and renovations, but no one was able to provide specific numbers.
LB 187, sponsored by state Sen. Bill Kintner (R-Papillion), would require that clinics that provide abortion care post signs ostensibly intended to prevent women from being forced to terminate a pregnancy. Kitner introduced a similar bill during the 2014 legislative session, but it failed to be voted out of committee.
State law already prohibits coercing a woman into terminating a pregnancy.
The bill also requires the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to create a web page to publish information related to the state’s forced counseling law, and requires abortion providers to offer a link on their websites to the DHHS web page.
Because neither bill has been designated as a priority, it is unlikely they will be passed by the legislature.