May 25, 2023 Update

On May 22, the state’s Republican governor signed into law a measure banning abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy and restricting gender-affirming medical care for those under 19. The abortion ban takes effect immediately. It includes exceptions for rape, incest, and to save the life of a mother.

as of March 2023 Report

Proposals restricting access to reproductive care

Current Nebraska law bans abortion at 20 weeks unless there is a danger to the pregnant person’s life. Republican lawmakers there are pushing to further restrict access to the procedure (,102).

At the time of this publication, lawmakers in Nebraska’s Republican-controlled legislature had advanced legislation, the Nebraska Heartbeat Act, for consideration by the full body. This legislation would effectively ban abortion procedures after six weeks if a physician can detect a fetal heartbeat (NB LB 626).

Taxes, religious freedom, and additional out-of-the-box proposals

In states including Nebraska, lawmakers are advocating offering new tax credits to incentivize private donations to private pregnancy centers, which, by definition, do not offer abortion care and, some maintain, mislead patients. This is not a new approach. Missouri has long had a similar measure on its books. The Nebraska measure (Nebraska LB 606 ) is moving, at time of publication, on to consideration by the full House. Under it, donors could cut their state tax bills by up to half, depending upon the size of their donation to qualifying organizations (with an annual cap of $10 million).

as of October 2022

Summary of Current (and Most Recent) Abortion and Personhood Laws

  • Nebraska law prohibits performing or inducing an abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization except as necessary to avert the woman’s death or serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function. Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 28-3, 102-111.
  • The law also includes reporting requirements applicable to physicians who perform abortions.
  • Nebraska prohibits telemedicine abortions by requiring the physician performing the abortion to be “physically present in the same room with the patient” when “prescribe[ing] any instrument, device, medicine, drug, or other substance to perform, induce, or attempt [an] abortion.” Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-335.

Potential impact of the law on and references to IVF and reproductive medicine if any

  • It does not appear that current abortion restrictions in Nebraska will apply to IVF or other reproductive medicine services outside the context of a pregnancy.
  • Nebraska’s abortion law currently does not include references to IVF or other reproductive medicine procedures.
  • Current law restricting abortion defines “unborn child” as “an individual or organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth,” but the term is used only in the context of abortion to end a pregnancy. 

Relevant definitions

  • Abortion” is defined as “the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or other substance or device to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant with an intention other than to increase the probability of a live birth, to preserve the life or health of the child after live birth, or to remove a dead unborn child who died as the result of natural causes in utero, accidental trauma, or a criminal assault on the pregnant woman or her unborn child, and which causes the premature termination of the pregnancy.”
  • Attempt to perform or induce an abortion” is defined as “an act, or an omission of a statutorily required act, that, under the circumstances as the actor believes them to be, constitutes a substantial step in a course of conduct planned to culminate in the performance or induction of an abortion in this state in violation of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”
  • Fertilization” is defined as “the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum.”
  • Unborn child” and “fetus” are each defined as “an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth.” Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-3,103.

Action for damages; action for injunctive relief; attorney's fees

A physician who violates the abortion restrictions may be subject to criminal and civil penalties and may be found to have engaged in unprofessional conduct. Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 28-3,108, 38-2021. The law also provides for damages, injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-3,109.

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