Business and Professional People for Life had two guests to speak on forthcoming legislation and action in a post-Roe era — Nebraska’s new Attorney General Mike Hilgers and Marion Miner, Associate Director of Pro-Life & Family Policy with the Nebraska Catholic Conference.
Mike Hilgers, Nebraska Attorney General
Before becoming Nebraska’s new Attorney General earlier this month, Mike Hilgers served six years in the Nebraska legislature, the last two as Speaker. He spoke briefly on past legislative battles in Nebraska, including the partial-birth abortion ban that was overturned in June 2000, withholding Title X funds from organizations like Planned Parenthood, and Suzanne Geist’s bill on dismemberment abortion (LB 814), which passed in 2020.
For nearly 50 years, under Roe v. Wade, abortion was a battle that happened primarily in the courts. Now with the Dobbs decision, it has moved to state legislatures. In 2022, before Roe v. Wade was overturned, state senator Joni Albrecht introduced a “trigger bill,” (LB 933), which would have banned abortion entirely should Roe be overturned. “April of last year, but when Roe was still a law of land, we had 31 of those votes.” Hilgers said. “And in June, just two months later, … we had about 26 — 26 votes for the exact same bill.” Hilgers encouraged attendees to help find and elect a new class of pro-life legislators, particularly since term limits would keep creating a cycle of new candidates.
Hilgers also outlined three ways that he works on behalf of Life as Nebraska’s Attorney General. The first is restricting overreach from the Executive Branch, “making sure that the federal government, in particular the Biden Administration, stays in its lane.” He cited examples such as an executive order allowing abortion drugs by mail. The second was in medical licensing, such as refraining from revoking medical licensing of doctors who are “saying some of the wrong things” such as “saying you’re pro-life, and men are men and women are women.” The third is in defending legislation passed by the legislature from legal challenges, rather than refusing to defend them in court. This happened in California with Prop 8 under then state attorney general Kamala Harris. “In Nebraska, when we get a bill passed, I’m sure it’s going to be very defensible, but you can rest assured that we will defend it, and we will win.”
Marion Miner, Nebraska Catholic Conference
Marion Miner works for the Nebraska Catholic Conference, which represents the Bishops in the Catholic church and their public policy priorities, primarily in the Unicameral. He outlined two bills currently before the legislature that he wanted attendees to help support.
The first was the Nebraska Pregnancy Help Act (LB 606), which would enable tax credits for donations to pro-life emergency pregnancy centers. “You could get rid of $500 worth of tax liability and send it instead to Assure, or EPS [Essential Pregnancy Services], or Bethlehem House, or any of those great organizations,” Miner said. Helping to fund organizations that provide an alternative to abortion would be vitally important in a post-Roe era. “We also need to be there for those women who are under supported, who are often in a crisis situation, who often don’t have family that they can rely on.” The bill was sponsored by Joni Albrecht and is currently in the Revenue Committee under chairwoman Lou Ann Linehan.
The second piece of legislation is the Nebraska Heartbeat Act (LB 626), also sponsored by Albrecht, which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. “That would, if passed, eliminate up to 85 percent of the abortions to the state of Nebraska — 2000 babies a year,” Miner said. He did not seem entirely confident they would have the votes to overcome a filibuster, however. “We’re right on the cusp of 33. I personally feel confident of 32. Let’s create one more.” He asked those present to contact their state senators and ask for their support, and mentioned contacting Justin Wayne, who is a Democrat. “I don’t know where his heart is ultimately on the issue, but he’s never shut us down. He’s always been willing to have a conversation.” Miner also asked attendees to sign up for their advocacy network at necatholic.org.