After a recent ruling by Lancaster County Judge Lori Maret that upheld Nebraska’s new pro-life protections, abortion advocates threaten a ballot initiative to force abortion rights in the state’s constitution. Last Friday, Planned Parenthood and its medical director, Dr. Sarah Traxler, backed by the America Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, filed notice with the Nebraska Supreme Court that they are appealing the dismissal of their lawsuit.

LB754, the “Let Them Grow Act,” passed in this year’s Legislative session and was signed into law on May 22. It protects minors from life-altering gender reassignment surgeries. Amendment 1658, the “Preborn Child Protection Act,” included in the bill, protects babies from most abortions at 12 weeks and beyond. The law allows exceptions for rape, incest and medical emergencies.

On behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the ACLU of Nebraska filed a preliminary injunction citing the law violated the Nebraska Constitution’s requirement that legislation be confined to a single subject.

On Friday, August 18, a newly formed committee named “Protect Our Rights” announced it has filed paperwork with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission that would establish a ballot initiative placing a constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot.“We are committed to exploring all possible options to protect our rights in Nebraska and restore the rights Nebraskans lost when politicians passed an abortion ban earlier this year,” Andi Curry Grubbs, a member of the committee and Nebraska Planned Parenthood of North Central States director said.

If a constitutional amendment that guarantees a right to abortion were placed in the Nebraska constitution, it would allow preborn babies to be killed throughout all 9 months of pregnancy for any reason. This is not consistent with the values of most Nebraskans.

“In an abortion, a baby dies and a mother is left with the physical and emotional scars,” said Sandy Danek, Nebraska Right to Life Executive Director.

Should the “Protect Our Rights” group move forward with the initiative, a petition drive would require signatures from 10% of Nebraska’s registered voters to make it on the ballot. The Nebraska Secretary of State’s office indicates that would be roughly 123,000 authorized signatures. In addition, signatures must be collected from 5% of the registered voters in 38 of Nebraska’s 93 counties.

“Nebraska has been a leader in pro-life legislation, including parental consent, ending taxpayer funding of abortion, banning abortion once a baby can feel pain, eliminating dismemberment abortions, and the recently passed Preborn Child Protection Act,” said Danek.

A ballot initiative could negate these current laws that have been supported by a majority of Nebraskans. Without knowing the ballot language, it is unclear how the initiative would impact abortion performance in Nebraska if it were to pass.

Other states have placed initiatives on their ballots with California, Michigan and Vermont voters passing the measure to force abortion rights in their state constitution. Montana, Kentucky and Kansas voters rejected measures that would have made it easier for lawmakers to increase greater safeguards from abortion.

“I am confident that once Nebraskans understand the consequences of this effort, they will reject it,” Danek said.