Nate Grasz of the Nebraska Family Alliance speaks on dueling abortion amendments
Nate Grasz of the Nebraska Family Alliance speaks at a luncheon with the Business and Professional People for Life in Omaha.

Nate Grasz of the Nebraska Family Alliance speaks on dueling abortion amendments

Nate Grasz is the Policy Director for the Nebraska Family Alliance and author of the book “Would the Pilgrims Still Come to America Today?: The Deteriorating State of Religious Liberty in America.” He recently spoke to the Business and Professional People for Life in Omaha about dueling ballot initiatives to amend abortion rights in the Nebraska state constitution.

“Protect Our Rights” — abortion without limits

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, abortion has been on the ballot in seven different states across the United States, including Michigan, Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio. In every state so far, the pro-life side has lost. Nebraska is now the target of a pro-abortion constitutional amendment under the title “Protect Our Rights,” which is now being circulated for signatures across the state.

The amendment states that “all persons shall have a fundamental right to abortion until fetal viability or when needed to protect the life or health of the pregnant patient without interference from the state.” Nate Grasz talked at length about the problematic language of the amendment and how it would be used to remove any and all restrictions on abortion.

“Viability means abortion until 23 or 24 weeks, but it turns out, that’s not what the initiative actually says,” Grasz said. “In fact, viability is not defined other than to say that viability is determined by the attending healthcare practitioner. Who is the attending healthcare practitioner in an abortion? It’s the abortionist.”

Also troublesome was the extension of the law to “all persons.”

“‘All persons’ have this right, so it is not only women, but children who have this fundamental right to abortion,” Grasz said. “We would not be able to enforce our parental notification statutes, so human traffickers could take young girls or bring in girls from out of state to come get abortions in Nebraska without their parents ever even knowing that they were pregnant.”

A different choice

Nebraska has long been viewed as a pro-life state, having been the first state in the country to prohibit abortion at 20 weeks and the state that fought all the way to the US Supreme Court to stop partial birth abortion (Stenberg v. Carhart). Grasz hopes that it will now be the state to turn the tide against pro-abortion ballot initiatives in 2024.

Grasz prepared for this effort with his counterparts in Ohio, who failed to stop a pro-abortion ballot initiative in their own state. “One of the things that they found was that … among weekly Church-attending Christians, only one third voted against the initiative, another third voted for the initiative, and the last third didn’t show up to vote at all,” Grasz said. “What we determined was that we have to actually give people a different choice. It can’t just be ‘vote no.'”

This choice comes in a pro-life counter ballot initiative, titled “Protect Women and Children.” This would add protections for unborn children after 20 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

“What the Protect Women and Children initiative is doing is establishing a minimum level of protection for unborn children in the second and third trimester, not a maximum,” Grasz said. “It is a floor of protection, and not a ceiling. And importantly, this initiative does not create a right to abortion of any kind, and neither does it prevent our legislature from passing stronger protections going forward.”

Volunteers gathering signatures for the ballot initiative have been available at various pro-life events, such as the recent Assure banquet with Seth Dillon and the local Pachyderm luncheon. One volunteer told me that they don’t want to make public when and where petitioners will be available for fear of retaliation by pro-abortion activists. Grasz told me that anyone interested in sign can contact the Nebraska Family Alliance for more information.

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