Nebraska judge allows abortion limits and restrictions on gender-affirming surgery

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A Nebraska judge is allowing a ban on abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy and restrictions on gender-affirming surgery to remain in effect

BySCOTT McFETRIDGE Associated Press

A Nebraska judge on Friday rejected an effort to block a ban on abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy and restrictions on gender-affirming surgery.

Lancaster County District Court Judge Lori Maret sided with the state and allowed a law approved by the Nebraska Legislature earlier this year to remain in effect.

The law outlaws abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. As of Oct. 1, it also will prevent people under 19 from receiving gender-affirming surgery and restricts the use of hormone treatments and puberty blockers for minors.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland had filed a lawsuit arguing legislators violated a constitutional requirement that bills not contain more than one subject. Lawmakers added the abortion ban to an existing bill dealing with gender-related care.

The attorney general contended the issues didn’t violate the rule because they were both health related.

“I am grateful for the court’s thorough decision,” Gov. Jim Pillen said in a statement. “I was proud to sign into law a measure that protects kids and defends the unborn, and I am pleased that it has been upheld.”

Mindy Rush Chipman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, which helped represent Planned Parenthood, said they would appeal the decision.

“State senators combined unrelated restrictions into a single bill in their rush to take away Nebraskans’ rights,” Rush Chipman said in a statement. “That tactic violated the text of the Nebraska Constitution, which plainly says that ‘no bill shall contain more than one subject.’ As a result, Nebraskans are being seriously harmed.”

Ruth Richardson, CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, called the decision a “devastating blow to Nebraskans’ fundamental right to make what should be private decisions between them and their doctors.”

Richardson said the organization would continue to provide abortions before 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Legislators added the abortion restrictions to a transgender-related bill as an amendment after a separate bill to ban abortions at about six weeks failed to overcome a filibuster.

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