The Nebraska legislature recently passed the “Let Them Grow Act,” a bill that imposes significant restrictions on abortions and transgender medical procedures. The pro-life portion of the bill was added as a last-minute amendment, which restricts abortions after 12 weeks, though allowing exceptions for cases of sexual assault, incest, and medical emergencies. While a previous bill aiming to ban most abortions around six weeks, known as the “heartbeat bill,” fell short by one vote on April 27, the abortion ban component of the new bill (LB 574) will become effective immediately if signed by Gov. Jim Pillen (R).
In addition to the pro-life language ensconced in the bill, healthcare providers in Nebraska would be prohibited from performing gender transition surgeries and offering puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to individuals under the age of 19. This aspect of the bill has generated significant controversy and sparked widespread protests. During the legislative proceedings, hundreds of demonstrators crowded the Capitol, leading the State Patrol to bring in additional officers for security purposes. As a result, six people were arrested. Two women threw tampons and pads from the balcony of the legislative chamber, two others refused to comply with orders to leave the viewing galleries, one individual was apprehended in the rotunda after an altercation with the sergeant at arms over opening a door, and the final arrestee punched a trooper.
State Senator Kathleen Kauth of Omaha, a sponsor of the original bill, acknowledged that while there is a shared goal of protecting children among legislators, there are differing opinions on how best to achieve that objective. The contentious nature of the bill is evident in the KETV coverage, which shows protesters shouting, blocking walkways, and engaging in altercations with law enforcement officers.
Overall, the near-certain passage of the “Let Them Grow Act” would represent a significant step towards imposing restrictions on reining in abortions and transgender medical procedures in Nebraska while protecting Nebraskan children.