Health Care

Nebraska abortion rights group begins 2024 ballot initiative push

An abortion rights group in Nebraska is taking initial steps to put the issue on the ballot in 2024.

A political campaign committee called Protect Our Rights filed paperwork earlier this month in support of a ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to protect the right to an abortion.

Language for the measure hasn’t been proposed yet, but the Secretary of State will need to sign off before the group can start collecting signatures. 

To place a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot requires valid signatures from 10 percent of the registered voters in the state — a little less than 123,000 as of the most recent public data available. 

In addition, signatures must be collected from 5 percent of the registered voters in 38 of Nebraska’s 93 counties.

Nebraska lawmakers in May passed a 12-week abortion ban, as part of a broader bill that also bans gender-affirming health care for transgender minors. The abortion ban carries exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest, and to save the life of the mother. 

The law is set to go into effect Oct. 1.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU sued, and a state judge last week upheld the law. The groups announced an appeal Friday.

One of the organizers of the Protect our Rights Coalition is Andi Curry Grubb, the executive director for Nebraska of Planned Parenthood North Central States, as well as executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska.

In a statement, she said the group is “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.”

State ballot measures are becoming the new battleground over abortion access in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and it’s proven to be a winning issue for abortion rights advocates. 

Every state that put abortion on the ballot in 2022 voted in favor of protecting access to the procedure in some way, including Republican-leaning Kentucky and Kansas. 

Earlier this month, voters in Ohio rejected an attempt by state GOP lawmakers to make it harder to pass ballot measures, which was largely viewed as a proxy fight for abortion ahead of a November ballot measure to enshrine abortion protections into the constitution. 

“We are considering a ballot initiative, specifically, because we know the majority of Nebraskans agree that the government shouldn’t be involved in personal decisions about healthcare. These deeply personal decisions should be treated with compassion and privacy, without government or political interference,” Protect Our Rights said.

Sandy Danek, executive director of the anti-abortion group Nebraska Right to Life, said she expected abortion rights activists to push a ballot measure.

“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,” Danek said.

“A ballot initiative could negate these current laws that have been supported by a majority of Nebraskans. I am confident that once Nebraskans understand the consequences of this effort, they will reject it,” she said. 

Tags abortion Ballot measure Nebraska