Nebraska sued over trans health care ban because it violates state ban on multi-issue bills
Author: Daniel Villarreal
Planned Parenthood and an abortion doctor have sued Nebraska for its recently passed ban on gender-affirming care.
The lawsuit, filed by the state’s affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says the ban violates the state’s constitution and negatively affects abortion healthcare providers and their patients. The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of Sarah Traxler, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood North Central States.
Nebraska’s Republican legislators initially tried to pass its ban on gender-affirming healthcare for minors by introducing it as its own bill, called the “Let Them Grow Act.” Democratic legislators successfully blocked the bill for months through a prolonged filibuster.
However, state Republicans secured the 33 votes needed to overcome the filibuster by adding an amendment to the “Let Them Grow Act,” which instituted a 12-week abortion ban. The newly combined bill received a majority vote in the state’s legislature and became law.
Combining the two bans into one bill violated the Nebraska constitution, according to the ACLU’s lawsuit. Article 3, Section 14 of the constitution states, “No bill shall contain more than one subject, and the subject shall be clearly expressed in the title.” Previous state legal judgments have ruled that any bills that violate this section of the constitution are “null” and have no legally binding force, the lawsuit says.
“The single-subject rule prevents logrolling, namely, the passage of legislation that, if standing alone, could not muster the necessary votes for enactment,” the lawsuit states. “The single-subject rule also promotes transparency in the legislative process and accountability by lawmakers…. When a bill contains more than one subject, it is impossible to know whether the lawmaker’s vote signaled support for (or opposition to) the entire bill, or just some of it.”
The abortion amendment added to the gender-affirming care ban had an emergency clause, causing it to immediately go into effect after Gov. Jim Pillen (R) signed it into law on May 23. Usually, newly passed laws must wait three months after the end of a state legislative session in order to go into effect.
After Pillen signed the law, the emergency clause immediately reduced the window of time during which abortion is legal in Nebraska from 22 weeks to 12 weeks.
The lawsuit noted that, over the last three years, one-third of Nebraska patients sought abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. Many Nebraskans don’t seek an abortion before 12 weeks because they may have irregular menstrual cycles, may not experience pregnancy symptoms, or may have trouble accessing abortion care due to finances, the impediments of domestic abuse, or the trauma of sexual assault.
Additionally, any physician performing abortions is now subject to mandatory forfeiture of their medical licenses and civil fines of up to $20,000 per abortion. As such, the law threatens the livelihood of Dr. Traxler and other abortion providers and threatens the well-being of abortion seekers, the ACLU’s lawsuit states. The lawsuit seeks to void the law and stop it from going into effect while the case is litigated in court.
While the state’s ban on gender-affirming care only outlawed gender-affirming surgeries on people under the age of 19 — surgeries which aren’t typically conducted on minors — the law also allows Nebraska’s transphobic chief medical officer Timothy Tesmer to regulate the use of hormones and puberty blockers by minors. Advocates suspect he’ll try to prohibit such use since he has voiced opposition to any gender-affirming procedures for minors.
Actual Story on LGBTQ Nation
Author: Daniel Villarreal