ACLU of Nebraska files lawsuit challenging abortion, gender-affirming surgery bans

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A lawsuit challenging the abortion and gender-affirming surgery bans was filed Tuesday in Lancaster County.

In a press release, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska says it is representing Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Dr. Sarah Traxler in the case.

Traxler is the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood North Central States, which covers Nebraska.

The ACLU is seeking a court order to block the enforcement of the bans, which Gov. Jim Pillen signed into law on May 22.

The group is also requesting a preliminary injunction to block the bans while litigation is pending, according to the release.

The ACLU says the bill violates the single-subject rule in the Nebraska State Constitution.

Legislative Bill 574, also known as the Let Them Grow Act, bans gender-affirming surgery for minors.  It also includes an amendment that bans abortion after 12 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and medical emergencies.

The abortion ban went into effect last Tuesday, and the ACLU says it has already impacted patient care.

Ruth Richardson, CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, released a statement regarding the lawsuit:

“Nebraskans are already being harmed under this dangerous abortion ban that was pushed through the Legislature using unprecedented tactics,” Richardson said. “We are already having to inform patients that they will be unable to get the critical health care they need in Nebraska, and we only expect to see that number grow. We will do everything in our power to restore what should be a fundamental right to bodily autonomy. Nebraskans deserve the right to make private health care decisions that are best for them, their families, and their futures—not politicians, who now have more control over our bodies than we do. And we will not stop until Nebraskans have that right today and for generations to come.”

Sen. Ben Hansen, the senator who introduced the abortion amendment, disagrees with the reasons behind the lawsuit and doesn’t believe the law violates the rule.

“There’s a myriad of reasons why we think it’s going to hold up very well,” he said.

Hansen said both measures have to do with children, either inside or outside the womb, pointing to the name of the bill.

“That has to do with letting children grow in the womb, letting children grow outside of the womb, so they’re relatable in that aspect,” he said.

The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office will have 30 days to respond to the lawsuit after being served.

The judge hearing the case may take action on the preliminary injunction request at any point.

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