Something remarkable happened last week which has been largely ignored by the national press. After a quick Google search, aside from the pro-life news agencies whom you’d expect to cover it, I found that just one major media outlet has touched on the story: ABC. Candidly, I would have thought such a big news story would have sparked much more of a national dialogue.
Here’s what happened.
Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed into law two groundbreaking measures that will change the way abortions are handled in the Cornhusker State. The first bill, known as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, bans abortions after 20 weeks based upon new evidence that the preborn baby feels pain at that stage of development.
The second law holds abortion providers accountable in the area of prescreening and counseling women prior to an abortion. The goal? To ensure that a woman isn’t being pressured or coerced into having an abortion. That pressure might come from a boyfriend, a family member, or even, in some cases, an employer—who may intimidate a woman into getting an abortion against her wishes.
Surprisingly, this happens much more frequently than you might imagine. LifeNews cites research which found upwards of “64% of women feel pressured by others to have an abortion.”
Furthermore, LifeNews cites one study which found that “even though more than half of women reported feeling rushed or uncertain about the abortion, 84% said they did not receive adequate counseling and 67% said they weren’t counseled at all.” Which is why for the first time anywhere in the country, the new law allows a woman to sue an abortion provider if they fail to provide adequate pre-abortion counseling.
The Director of Pro-Life Activities for the Nebraska Catholic Conference, Greg Schleppenbach, was one of the leading lobbyists seeking passage of the bill. He was especially troubled over the lack of pre-abortion counseling. In an interview with LifeNews, Greg reported:
“99% of abortions in Nebraska take place in two abortion facilities. Their informed consent counseling consists of recorded phone messages 24 hours before the abortions and most women never see the abortion provider except during the 10 minutes or so he is doing the abortion. Women deserve better.”
Here’s what’s especially interesting to me. For the most part, Europe’s abortion rules are significantly stricter than what was just passed in Nebraska. Granted, in the United Kingdom abortions are permitted during the first 24 weeks, and in Spain it’s 22 weeks. However, according to a report filed by the BBC, abortions are limited to the first 12 weeks in Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, and Slovakia.
I applaud Governor Heineman for signing these life-saving bills. I also commend the Nebraska state legislature who voted overwhelmingly in favor of these measures (44-5 and 40-9 respectively). Wouldn’t it be great if other states followed Nebraska’s lead?