Updated May 19, 2023 - Health

Nebraska set to restrict abortion, gender-affirming care for trans minors

Picture of the Nebraska state Capitol

The Nebraska state Capitol. Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Nebraska lawmakers on Friday approved a bill to ban abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy and restrict gender-affirming care for trans minors.

What's next: The bill, which is likely the first to combine restrictions on abortion and gender-affirming care, heads to the desk of Gov. Jim Pillen (R) for his signature.

  • After the bill passed, Pillen issued a statement expressing support for the legislation, specifically addressing gender-affirming care: "[K]ids deserve the opportunity to grow and explore who they are and want to be, and they can do so without making irreversible decisions that should be made when they are fully grown."
  • Major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, consider this type of care to be medically necessary and potentially lifesaving for trans youth.

Catch up quick: Nebraska's Republican-controlled legislature had previously attempted but failed to pass a six-week abortion ban.

  • Lawmakers then quietly amended the bill banning gender-affirming care to add limits on abortion in the final days of the state's legislative session.
  • Abortion is currently legal in Nebraska until 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Details: LB 574 bars physicians from providing an abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of a medical emergency, sexual assault, or incest.

  • The bill bans “gender-altering procedures” — which it defines as “any medical or surgerical service” and “prescribed drugs related to gender alteration” — for trans youth under the age of 19, Nebraska’s age of majority.
  • It also gives the state’s chief medical officer — who has been appointed by Nebraska’s Republican governor — the power to “adopt and promulgate” regulations to provide “nonsurgical gender-altering procedures” to minors, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy.
  • The 12-week abortion ban would take effect immediately upon being signed, and the restrictions on gender-affirming care would take effect in October.

Zoom out: Nebraska is the latest state to move to restrict access to gender-affirming health care for transgender people. So far, more than 100 bills to limit this type of care have been introduced, according to the ACLU.

What we're watching: The ACLU of Nebraska said in a statement that it is currently exploring all "options to address the harm of this extreme legislation, and that work will have our team's full focus."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details about the legislation.

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