As Abortion Rights Win Votes Across US, Nebraska Becomes Latest State To Launch Referendum
Three rights groups in Nebraska plan to make the state one of a growing number where constituents are being asked directly whether they approve of the Republican Party's efforts to ban access to abortion care, with the coalition filing paperwork to include a ballot initiative in the 2024 elections.
NBC News affiliate WOWT in Omaha reported late Thursday that officials at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska (PPAN), I Be Black Girl, and Nebraska Abortion Resources updated their ballot initiative registration that day after initially filing organizational papers on August 4.
They are forming a coalition called Protect Our Rights to promote the initiative, the precise language of which has not yet been determined.
The coalition told the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC) that its intended purpose is to place a question on 2024 ballots regarding a new amendment to the state constitution that would protect the right to abortion.
"We are considering a ballot initiative, specifically, because we know the majority of Nebraskans agree that the government shouldn't be involved in personal decisions about healthcare."
The news was reported a week after a judge in Lancaster County, Nebraska rejected abortion rights advocates' legal challenge to the state's 12-week abortion ban, which the groups said they will continue to fight in court. The ban was signed into law by Republican Gov. Jim Pillen in May.
"We are committed to exploring all possible options to protect our rights in Nebraska and restore the rights Nebraskans lost when politicians passed an abortion ban earlier this year," the group said in a statement Thursday. "We are considering a ballot initiative, specifically, because we know the majority of Nebraskans agree that the government shouldn't be involved in personal decisions about healthcare."
Protect Our Rights announced its formation days after advocates in Arizona announced their own initiative to place a referendum on 2024 ballots regarding a constitutional amendment that would affirm that residents have the right abortion care.
Since the right-wing majority of the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year and cleared the way for states to ban abortion care, voters in states including Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana have approved referendums to guarantee abortion rights with constitutional amendments or to stop lawmakers from banning abortion care.
Those votes have shown that abortion rights are "becoming more and more of a nonpartisan issue," PPAN executive director Andi Curry Grubb told the Nebraska Examiner on Thursday.
"I think the majority of Nebraskans agree that the government shouldn't be involved in these decisions," said Curry Grubb.
Organizers will need to collect the signatures of 10% of the state's registered voters—just under 123,000 people. They must also collect signatures of 5% of registered voters in 38 of the state's 93 counties.
According to NADC filings, the coalition had collected or spent $5,000 on the initiative as of August 11.
"Protect Our Rights is a grassroots coalition who believe that all Nebraskans have a right to the freedom to make their own decisions about pregnancy and abortion, without government interference," said the coalition. "These deeply personal decisions should be treated with compassion and privacy."
Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.
Common Dreams -- To inform. To Inspire. To ignite change for the Common good. Donate to Common Dreams.