Ricketts donates $500,000 to petition drive aimed at enshrining abortion ban

17 de Abril de 2024 a las 17:00 ·

Gov. Pete Ricketts
Pete Ricketts (Photo by Fred Knapp, Nebraska Public Media News)

The group aiming to enshrine an abortion ban after the first trimester of pregnancy in Nebraska's state constitution is reporting $500,000 in total cash, all from a single donation.

According to documents filed with Nebraska's Disclosure and Accountability Commission, that donation was made to the Protect Women and Children ballot initiative by Pete Ricketts, Nebraska’s current senator and former governor.

“Nebraska’s commonsense abortion limits reflect our state’s strong culture of life,” Ricketts said in a statement. “I support the Protect Women and Children ballot initiative because it protects Nebraska values and is a contrast to the extreme initiative the abortion lobby is pushing.”

Nebraska Public Media has reached out to the Protect Women and Children ballot initiative organizers for comment but has not received a response.

The money could help organizers collect the signatures they need to get the ban in front of voters on the November ballot. They have until July 3 to collect just under 123,000 signatures from 10% of the state’s registered voters. They'll also need signatures from 5% of voters in 38 of Nebraska's 93 counties.

Ricketts Donation 2.JPG

Ricketts is no stranger to financially supporting ballot measures. His family bankrolled a successful push to restore Nebraska's death penalty through a ballot initiative in 2015. The Nebraskans for the Death Penalty committee collected more than 166,000 signatures within a few months in summer 2015. More than 143,000 of those signatures were verified.

Meanwhile, an abortion rights organization, Protect Our Rights, is collecting signatures for their abortion-related ballot initiative. That campaign is aiming to guarantee abortion rights until fetal viability – usually around 24 weeks – in the state constitution.

Protect Our Rights reported it had raised about $473,000 in its latest filing with Nebraska's Accountability and Disclosure Commission, mostly from local nonprofits like Planned Parenthood, Nebraska Appleseed and Women's Fund of Omaha. Those groups are also contributing staff time. Protect Our Rights reported having about $227,000 in cash on hand at the end of the reporting period.

Andi Curry Grubb, Planned Parenthood's executive director in Nebraska, said Ricketts' donation is "proof" that anti-abortion groups and politicians "want to totally ban abortion and will pull out all the stops to try and confuse voters and attempt to stop Nebraskans from protecting their rights this fall."

“Decisions about pregnancy and abortion belong to Nebraskans, not politicians," Curry Grubb said in the statement on behalf of the campaign. "Protect Our Rights remains committed to returning these deeply personal decisions to Nebraskans and our trusted health care providers with the support of Nebraskans from all political parties and all corners of the state.”

If both petitions make the November ballot, Nebraska statute dictates that whichever measure receives the most votes will be adopted in the state's constitution.