Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt has introduced two amendments to the Nebraska constitution seeking to make “reproductive freedom” an inherent and inalienable right.
LR18CA would enshrine the right, while its companion, LR19CA, would create outline its meaning in a new section of the constitution, including the right to make decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, such as abortion on demand.
The measures would also protect Nebraskans from legal penalties stemming from the exercise of “reproductive freedom.” The proposals were heard last week by the Health and Human Services Committee.
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many states have moved the other direction, to protect life, by enacting restrictions on abortion.
Sen. Hunt, a long-time pro-abortion advocate, hopes to put her amendments to a statewide vote in the 2024 general election to preemptively thwart attempts to restrict abortion in Nebraska.
“[Lawmakers] really don’t know what’s best for individuals and their families when it comes to decisions about how, when [and] where to start a family,” Hunt told a reporter for Unicameral Update. “But I trust our neighbors and I want to know what they think.”
The inconsistency of assigning a right to abortion the same constitutional protection as the right to life was not lost on Nebraska Family Alliance representative, Nate Grasz, who said, “We possess this right [to life] by virtue of our humanity and not because it is granted to us by government or other people.
“States should seek to provide greater protections to the lives of baby boys and girls in our state while providing meaningful, compassionate care and support for mothers and their families.”
Sandy Danek, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, also testified in opposition, pointing out another inconsistency Hunt’s amendments would create.
Under state and federal law, a person can be held criminally liable for injuring or killing an unborn child while committing a crime against a pregnant individual, because a mother and her unborn child are recognized as two separate human lives.
“Clearly, both our federal and state legislative bodies have endowed the unborn child at any stage of development with personhood,” Danek said. “Therefore, that child is also entitled to the right to life – which is in direct conflict with [Hunt’s definition of] reproductive freedom.”
Another Nebraskan testifying in opposition, Justine Kyker, said both measures misconstrue the definition of reproductive freedom.
“The right to reproductive freedom is our right to reproduce, not our right to abort,” she said.
The committee took no immediate action on either proposal.