The petition drive to make Bellevue, Nebraska a “sanctuary city for the unborn” has gathered nearly half the required number of signatures needed to place the ordinance before the city council.
If organizers succeed, the city council will vote on the ordinance. If it fails to pass, a special election will then be held to decide the question. The initiative, launched in August, has six months to garner signatures from at least 20% of registered voters within the city limits – roughly 7,400 people.
The effort has not been without opposition. Bellevue hosts one of only three abortion clinics in the state, and the only one that performs late-term procedures. The clinic is owned and operated by Leroy Carhart, a physician who has met with his own share of controversy over safety conditions at the Bellevue clinic and one he owns in Bethesda, Maryland.
Since 2010, Carhart has commuted between Bellevue and Bethesda and performed partial-birth and other late term abortion procedures.
Carhart was also the defendant in a landmark Supreme Court case in 2000, Stenberg v. Carhart, involving the legitimacy of a partial-birth abortion ban enacted by the Nebraska legislature. The court invalidated Nebraska’s law as a violation of Roe v. Wade, and the experience launched Carhart into a national figure.
In Bellevue, the latest petition drive is the reason behind two recent threats of violence. Notes threatening to “shoot up” the buildings if the Bellevue abortion ban passes were found on two Omaha churches. The notes were signed “Jane’s Revenge,” a shadowy pro-abortion group that has engaged in violence against pro-life organizations on numerous occasions.
“The person that’s most threatened by pro-abortion is the child in the womb,” said Judith Mansisidor, one of three residents behind the petition, speaking to a local television news station. “It’s really a shame that there was a threat against this, this is an American process, a civil process, a peaceful process, this is what makes our country so great, and it’s a shame that it was threatened.”
After November’s election, Nebraska’s legislature is now expected to have the votes necessary to enact statewide abortion restrictions when the new session begins in January, although the type and scope of those restrictions remains to be seen.
What appears to be clear is that any state restrictions passed will stop short of an outright ban, leaving Bellevue’s effort as the only ban under consideration in the state.