Nebraska Governor Signs Combined Anti-Trans, Anti-Abortion Bill Into Law

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On May 26, 2021, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts signed into law a combined anti-transgender and anti-abortion bill, known as LB 650. The bill prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirming care to transgender youths under 19 years old, and bans dilation and evacuation abortions, which are the most common form of second-trimester abortions.

The bill has sparked controversy and outrage from civil rights and reproductive health advocates, who argue that it violates the constitutional rights of transgender people and pregnant individuals to bodily autonomy and privacy, and puts their health and well-being at risk.

The bill was introduced in January by Senator Joni Albrecht, who claimed that it was necessary to protect children from irreversible and harmful medical treatments and to promote the sanctity of life. However, opponents argue that the bill is part of a larger agenda to erode LGBTQ rights and reproductive freedom, and that its real purpose is to stigmatize and discriminate against vulnerable populations.

The bill prohibits doctors from prescribing hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and other gender-affirming treatments to transgender youths under 19, and prohibits them from referring them to other doctors who can provide such care. It also requires doctors to inform parents or guardians of minors seeking gender-affirming care of the potential risks and long-term effects of such treatments, including infertility, cancer, and other health problems, even though there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.

The bill also bans dilation and evacuation abortions, which are the safest and most common form of second-trimester abortions and are often necessary for women who have medical conditions or fetal anomalies that make other abortion methods unavailable or unsafe. The bill allows exceptions only when the pregnant person’s life is in danger or there is a serious risk of irreversible physical harm, but not for rape, incest, fetal anomalies, or other medical conditions.

The bill is set to take effect on July 1, 2021, but opponents have already filed lawsuits to challenge its constitutionality and legality under both state and federal laws. Some critics argue that the bill could lead to a wave of discrimination and lawsuits against doctors and hospitals, and could force transgender youths and pregnant individuals to seek unsafe and illegal treatments or to travel out of state to access care.

The passage of the bill reflects a larger trend of attacks on LGBTQ rights and reproductive freedom in conservative states, where lawmakers have been emboldened by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court and the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back protections for marginalized communities.

While supporters of the bill argue that it protects children and promotes the sanctity of life, opponents say that it violates fundamental human rights and promotes discrimination and stigma against marginalized communities. They argue that transgender youths and pregnant individuals have the right to make their own medical decisions and to access safe, legal, and compassionate care without fear of harassment, intimidation, or punishment.

The future of LGBTQ rights and reproductive freedom remains uncertain, but advocates are committed to fighting back against attacks on their rights and dignity. They are calling on lawmakers, policymakers, healthcare providers, and community members to stand up against hate and discrimination and to support policies that promote equality, justice, and dignity for all.