Abortion Opponent calls chances of Special Session "Remote"

4 Aug 2022, 5 p.m. ·

Nebraska Capitol (Photo by Fred Knapp, Nebraska Public Media News)
Nebraska Capitol (Photo by Fred Knapp, Nebraska Public Media News)

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The speaker of the Nebraska Legislature is asking his colleagues about holding a special session to restrict abortions. But one abortion opponent says he opposes a special session, and chances it will be held are “remote.”

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, returning abortion questions to the states, Gov. Pete Ricketts said he would consult with Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers on how to proceed. One possibility is to hold a special session to tighten restrictions, beyond Nebraska’s current law allowing abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization. It would require 33 votes in the 49-member Legislature to overcome a filibuster and pass a new law.

Wednesday night, Sen. Megan Hunt, an abortion rights supporter, tweeted that Hilgers was phoning members asking if they would sign a letter supporting a special session to ban abortion after 12 weeks.

Thursday, Sen. John Stinner said he had talked to Hilgers about that this week.

“He and I had a conversation about a letter that basically drops the 20 weeks to 12 weeks, and I think basically gives an indication of whether we have 33 votes or solidarity or not. And that’s kind of where I left it with him. I said I am not going to sign any letter,” Stinner said.

Stinner said he personally opposes abortion, but any legislation should consider rape, incest, and the health of the mother.

“We’ve got two lives to consider here, not just one. So I wanted to make sure that we covered all the bases in a more comprehensive fashion. And I don’t think that can be covered in a special session,” he said.

Special sessions typically last only a week or two, making it harder to amend legislation, and easier to block it with a filibuster.

In April, a motion to end a filibuster and vote on a total abortion ban got 31 votes. Stinner voted for that motion, but says he wanted to amend the bill, for example, by requiring a medical review of the need for an abortion before any law enforcement action against a doctor.

Stinner said the support isn't there among senators to call a special session.

“They don’t even have close to 33,” he said.

Hilgers said Thursday he’s continuing to talk to his colleagues, adding “I don’t have additional comment until I’ve finished those conversations.”

If no special session is called, legislation on abortion is expected to be introduced when the Legislature’s regular session convenes in January.