Christensen expects court challenge to abortion bill

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A controversial bill that would ban late-term abortions based on fetal pain rather than viability advanced out of the Nebraska Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Mark Christensen, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, said this morning at the McCook Area Chamber of Conference that he expects the bill to be challenged in court.

The bill would adopt the "Abortion Pain Prevention Act," that states, except in the case of a medical emergency, no abortion shall be performed by a doctor if the probable gestational age of the unborn child is 20 or more weeks, a time when some experts think the fetus can feel pain.

Current state law bans abortions if the fetus can survive outside the womb. Typical viability occurs at about 18 to 24 weeks.

The bill was advanced by a 5-3 vote, with a lot of "frustration discussion," Christensen said. Essentially, it prohibits abortion based on fetal pain rather than viability.

A related bill that also advanced out of the Judiciary Committee was LB 594, which would create the Women's Health Protection Act. The bill would require a reasonable evaluation of risk factors (such as physical, psychological, emotional, demographic, or situational) before an abortion is performed. It also authorizes civil remedies against doctors performing the abortion if they fail to comply with the act.

As late as these bills have appeared, there will still be time to debate them due to the quick work senators have done with the budget, Christensen said.

Lawmakers also advanced on second round a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the state treasurer's office. If approved on the third on final vote, the amendment would go to the voters on the statewide November election ballot.

The bill is designed to save the state some dollars, but exactly how much that would be is not known yet, Christensen said.

Christensen said this morning that he testified on the bill over his concern that eliminating an elected office would take away the vote of the people.

The position would be placed under the governor's office, with duties spread out to other departments, a process taking four years.

In response to questions, Christensen also commented on some other bills winding their way through the Legislature, including:

* LB 510, which creates the Nebraska Crime Victim Fund and would provide funding to vocational programs at the Nebraska Department of Corrections Work Ethic Camp. This new fund would come from one-dollar surcharges assessed on defendant fines or other penalties for state or local criminal and traffic offenses.

The collected funds would be distributed to several programs, including comprehensive crime victim assistance programs and non-profit organizations working for the benefit of the crime victim.

Under a proposed amendment, 25 percent of the funds would go to Re-entry Cash Fund. This fund would be used by the department for tuition, fees, and other costs associated with reentry and reintegration programs offered to offenders that are placed in incarceration work camps, such as the WEC.

Christensen said it advanced out the Judiciary Committee unanimously, except for one senator in opposition. This senator believed it would only benefit those in Southwest Nebraska, he said, although the majority of offenders/inmates at the WEC who participate in the welding program currently come from and return to the eastern part of the state.

* LB 1072, that would change provisions related to the Community College Foundation and Equalization Aid Act, that changes the funding formula for community colleges. The bill would provide new categories and factor weightings in determining reimbursable educational units, provides additional duties for the Coordinating Commission for Post secondary Education with respect to community colleges and makes modifications to community college role and mission statutes. The bill also makes membership in an association of community college boards permissive rather than mandatory. Christensen said he is supporting the bill as it would apply to Mid-Plains Community College.

Christensen also noted that an appeal has been filed on the District Court ruling that upheld the occupation tax on irrigated acres.

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  • Wonder if the senator that objected to the re-entry bill has the same objection on all the ones that only help the eastern part of the state?

    -- Posted by Chaco1 on Thu, Mar 18, 2010, at 7:29 PM
  • Any thing can happen Chaco1.

    Its funny what Christenson has published in the Gazette and what the weekly Unicameral Bulletin publishes. Like 2 different stories many times.

    Like Senator Tom Baker said a short time ago, got too all work together and try to help others.

    Sure will be nice when Tom Baker gets back in there and help solve many problems.

    -- Posted by Just a reader on Thu, Mar 18, 2010, at 9:35 PM
  • I've been pro abortion since before Roe v Wade and I will continue to argue that no one, male or female, should be saddled with a child they neither want nor can afford.

    I was saddled with a baby when I was 9 years old and told he was my responsibility, even tho I had no part in his conception. It cost me the opportunity to be a kid myself, and I've hated him and his younger brother since. All a crying baby is to me is a reminder of the beatings I got when I didn't move fast enough to suit their father.

    No matter how careful people are, accidents happen and shouldn't ruin the lives of the parents, regardless of age. Leave abortion alone, and let those who want it have it. If one wants it and the other doesn't, let the one who wants it keep it and raise it w/o help from the parent who doesn't.

    -- Posted by old grouch on Fri, Mar 19, 2010, at 6:16 AM
  • old grouch,

    So sorry for your horrible experience as a child. It seems to me that your anger/hate should be against the father of the children not the children. Do you really hate your children? Think about it, they had no choice in being conceived, just as you had no choice in their creation.

    "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given us" Romans 5 2-5

    You made it clear how painful your situation is, why is the suffering of unborn child being killed any different?

    -- Posted by proudmomof4 on Fri, Mar 19, 2010, at 7:03 AM
  • Praise the lord that doctors perform abortions, no unwanted child should be born. I had a daughter that had a child that I raised, thank god the second time she got an abortion. You don't see these religious prolife people out there lined up to adopt these unwanted children or to help raise them.

    -- Posted by geewhiz on Fri, Mar 19, 2010, at 11:36 AM
  • Yep thank god for actions without consequenses.

    -- Posted by Chaco1 on Fri, Mar 19, 2010, at 4:15 PM
  • Again, I question rationale thinking, kill a child because I, I, I, I.... Painful infliction is okay as long as I don't have to deal with a challenge, makes me feel ill. Enough said.

    -- Posted by proudmomof4 on Sat, Mar 20, 2010, at 8:19 AM
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