Nebraska amends anti-trans healthcare bill to ban abortion after just 12 weeks: ‘This is not normal’

Senator Merv Riepe at his desk in the Nebraska House

Amendments to a bill banning gender-affirming care for trans people in Nebraska would also outlaw almost all abortions if passed.

Republican state lawmaker Ben Hansen filed amendments to legislative bill 574 (LB574), also known as the Let Them Grow Act, that would ban abortions after 12 weeks.

The legislation also seeks to restrict gender-affirming care for trans youth, including physically reversible puberty blockers, by rescinding state funding from healthcare practitioners who prescribe them.

Gender-affirming surgery for trans youth would also be banned despite there being no healthcare institution that performs procedures on young trans people.

Additionally, the bill would leave medical professionals susceptible to lawsuits if they continue to administer puberty blockers.

The latest set of amendments filed by Republican state senators coincides with the blocking of an anti-abortion bill that would have banned procedures after six weeks.

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The almost completely partisan vote on 27 April was blocked by state Republican senator Merv Riepe, who chose to vote against the bill.

His decision prompted outrage from fellow Republican lawmakers, who called for the 80-year-old politician’s resignation.

However, Riepe instead filed an amendment to the Nebraska Heartbeat Act to modify the time to 12-week limit – the same time as LB 574’s amendments.

Filed in January, the anti-trans law has been opposed by Democratic lawmakers, including senator Megan Hunt, who have been filibustering the bill for several months. to prevent it from being voted on.

Speaking to The Independent, Hunt said: “This is not normal, it’s not serious, it’s not professional and it’s beneath the dignity of the work that we’re called to do in this legislature as lawmakers.”

In addition, more than 100 state-wide businesses and non-for-profit organisations have signed an open letter condemning the ban as “not good for business”.

The letter argued that, not only are the proposed laws “discouraging and disappointing”, they also negatively affect local businesses by creating a hostile environment and causing pro-LGBTQ+ allies to stay away from Nebraska.

“Nebraska can avoid major competitive risks – and win investment, business and talent – by sending a clear consistent signal that all are welcome here and Nebraska is open business,” it read.

“A welcoming stance towards all people matters – not just for marginalised workers. The next generation of workers aren’t just wanting inclusive environments, they are demanding it.”

Republican state senator Kathleen Kauth, the bill’s author, dismissed the letter as fear-mongering tactics, saying that the bill’s sponsors should check the list of signed businesses and “decide where they spend their money”.

In a legislative address on Friday (5 May), Hunt responded to the controversy, saying: “I do not believe in reciprocating civility to people who would take your rights away.”

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