OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Monday that he will not call a special legislative session to try to enact a 12-week abortion ban because the measure doesn't have enough votes to break a filibuster.
Ricketts — a Republican who has said he wants to ban all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest — said in a statement that Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers informed him that only 30 lawmakers would vote for a measure to ban the procedure starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy. Thirty-three votes are needed to break a filibuster.
“It is deeply saddening that only 30 Nebraska state senators are willing to come back to Lincoln this fall in order to protect innocent life,” Ricketts said in his statement.
Hilgers, a Republican abortion opponent, had said in June that he anticipated a special session later this summer.
During the Legislature's regular session, opponents successfully filibustered a proposed “trigger law” that would have seen Nebraska outlaw abortion once the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized the procedure nationwide. The vote to end debate in the officially non-partisan, one-chamber Legislature was 31-15, two votes shy of what was needed.
Ricketts' announcement comes after voters in neighboring Kansas last week resoundingly rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed the state’s conservative Legislature to ban abortion. Indiana on Friday became the first state to approve such restrictions since the Supreme Cout's June ruling that removed constitutional protections for the procedure.
Abortion rights proponent Sen. Megan Hunt, of Omaha, had warned in May that she would make a special session on abortion an “excruciating, painful experience” for her fellow lawmakers. She said politicians across the country are seeing the effects of the Supreme Court's June decision.
“We’re seeing what’s happening to patients in Texas, to assault survivors in Ohio; we’re seeing what happened on the ballot in Kansas, and Nebraska anti-abortion politicians are afraid of the issue," Hunt said. "They know that the majority of Nebraskans support the right to abortion, and they know that if they brought us into a special session, they simply wouldn’t win.”