Nebraska Judge Upholds Gender Surgery, Abortion Bans
The state’s new ‘Let Them Grow Act’ bans transgender surgery on minors and was subsequently amended to include a ban on many abortions.
A Nebraska judge upheld the state’s “Let Them Grow Act” Aug. 11, turning back a Planned Parenthood and ACLU attempt to declare the law unconstitutional. Third District (Lancaster County) Court Judge Lori Maret denied the plaintiffs’ request for injunctions against the law.
The “Let Them Grow Act,” enacted this year and signed by Governor Jim Pillen May 22, bans transgender surgery on minors. It was subsequently amended to include a ban on abortions after 12 weeks except in cases of threat of maternal death, rape or incest.
Planned Parenthood and the ACLU sought to invalidate the bill by invoking a provision of the Nebraska Constitution requiring laws to deal with only one subject. They claimed that the addition of the abortion limits unconstitutionally expanded the bill’s subject matter. Judge Maret dismissed that argument, saying both issues addressed one subject: public health and welfare.
Plaintiffs are expected to appeal.
The bill came to cover abortion after attempts to pass a “heartbeat bill,” prohibiting abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat (usually six weeks) failed to overcome a filibuster in the one-chamber legislature. Legislators responded by attaching the 12-week ban to the transgender ban act.
In her decision, Judge Maret noted that Planned Parenthood had standing to challenge the law because, as the organization itself wrote, it will “suffer direct economic injury through the loss of business.” Planned Parenthood performed 4,631 abortions in Nebraska from May 2020 to May 2023, and 1,464 of those would have been banned under the new law.
Nebraska Right to Life reports that some parties involved in this failed lawsuit reconstituted as a political action group, “Protect Our Rights,” and began organizational efforts Aug. 18 to force a November 2024 referendum to write abortion into the Nebraska constitution. Under Nebraska law, the group would have to gather 123,000 signatures, with at least 5% of voters in a minimum of 38 out of 93 counties. The group claims it has not yet formulated the text of its amendment, although efforts to use referenda-driven amendments in Ohio and Arizona both guarantee abortion-on-demand throughout pregnancy.