A Nebraska GOP lawmaker is planning to introduce a bill that would criminalize a common medical procedure used after a miscarriage and during second-trimester abortions.
Sen. Tommy Garrett (R-Bellevue) is planning to introduce a bill to ban “dismemberment abortions,” which would target the dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure, commonly used in second-trimester abortion care. The procedure is a method of abortion during which a physician will dilate a woman’s cervix and remove the fetus using forceps, clamps, or other instruments.
Garrett is working with an anti-choice group, the Nebraska Right to Life, to craft the legislation, the Lincoln Journal-Star reported. The organization has been approached by four other state lawmakers during the legislative recess to inquire about sponsoring anti-choice bills during the next legislation session.
Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, told the Lincoln Journal-Star that the organization has had “more interest” this year from state lawmakers. Schmit-Albin described abortion restrictions as “chipping away” at the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.
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Legislation to ban the common medical procedure has been introduced by Republican legislators in six states this year, and was signed into law by the governors of Kansas and Oklahoma. The bills have all been copies of legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Committee.
A Michigan lawmaker last week introduced two bills to ban the D and E procedure in the state, and lawmakers in Arkansas are planning on introducing similar legislation during the state’s 2017 legislative session. While the Nebraska state senate is non-partisan body, Republicans hold a 37-11 unofficial majority.
Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues associate for the Guttmacher Institute, told Rewire that reproductive rights advocates are concerned that attempts to ban D and E abortion care could be introduced in multiple state legislatures in the coming years.
“This could be a new trend at the state level,” Nash said. “It does fall right in line with some of the trends we’ve been seeing over time. From states restricting access to post-viability abortion to the trend of 20-week abortion bans.”
Nebraska was the first state to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Lawmakers justified the restriction by charging that “substantial medical evidence indicates that [fetuses] are capable of feeling pain.” However, all available medical evidence disproves the notion of so-called fetal pain.
Garrett, who sponsored a failed 2014 bill that would have required abortion clinics to post signs that say it is “against the law for anyone to force you to have an abortion,” told the Lincoln Journal-Star that he has struggled with how to make more “progress” in restricting abortion.
When the anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress published a series of videos spreading misinformation about Planned Parenthood, it gave Garrett an opportunity to introduce new legislation.
“This Planned Parenthood stuff is so vulgar. I mean, it’s beyond words,” Garrett said of the wisely discredited attack videos distributed by CMP in coordination with Republican lawmakers. “It’s like baby body parts are commodities to be traded on the open market.”
Planned Parenthood has been repeatedly cleared by state investigations of any wrongdoing with regards to fetal tissue donation and disposal.
A recent independent analysis of the CMP videos found that footage in the “undercover” videos was found to have been deceptively edited to alter the meaning of dialogue, and significant portions of the footage were found to have been removed from videos the organization claimed were “full footage.”
Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said lawmakers are using the videos to justify further eroding reproductive rights. “We urge lawmakers to stop using these wholly fraudulent videos to justify measures that threaten access to affordable, high-quality health care in Nebraska,” de Baca told the Lincoln Journal-Star.