By Gabriela Borter
(Reuters) – Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts will not call the state legislature into a special session to consider tougher abortion laws because Republican lawmakers did not have the votes to pass a ban on abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy. he said Monday.
The statement by Ricketts, a Republican, comes as several other Republican-led states have grappled in recent weeks with restricting abortion access after the US Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade in 1973 that legalized abortion throughout the country.
Indiana on Friday became the first state to pass a new abortion ban since Roe’s overturn, but Republican lawmakers were divided on what exceptions to allow.
Nebraska currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization. Ricketts had expressed interest in calling a special session to further restrict abortion access and said he would support a near-total ban with no exceptions for rape or incest.
But in his statement Monday, the governor said only 30 state senators would support a ban on abortions past 12 weeks. The legislation requires 33 votes to pass.
The Nebraska state legislature is unicameral, meaning it has only one chamber and is made up of 32 Republicans and 17 Democrats.
“It is deeply saddening that only 30 senators from the state of Nebraska are willing to return to Lincoln this fall to protect innocent lives,” Ricketts said. “As Governor, I will continue to do everything in my power to affirm the rights of unborn babies and to support pregnant women, children and families in need.”
Democratic Nebraska state senator Megan Hunt wrote on Twitter last week that the proposed 12-week ban was part of an effort by the state’s Republican leaders to appear “moderate” compared to the outright bans that have come in. effective in another 10 weeks. state
“Abortion is a right. Abortion is medical care. And the decision on whether and when to become a father does not belong to the government,” Hunt tweeted Monday.
The near-total ban signed Friday by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb bans all abortions except when the mother’s life is in danger, the fetus develops a fatal abnormality, or the pregnancy results from rape or incest but has not progressed. beyond 10 weeks of gestation.
The West Virginia legislature, also led by Republicans, is poised to pass a near total ban on abortion during a special session this summer. But lawmakers disagree on whether doctors who perform abortions outside the narrow exceptions should face jail time.
The defeat last week of a Republican-backed Kansas constitutional amendment to restrict abortion has raised hopes for Democrats that they can harness voter anger to prevail in November’s competitive midterm elections.
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Josie Kao)