Fight over abortion goes local as five Nebraska towns approve bans

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The fight for abortion went local during the midterm election.

Voters from five Nebraska towns approved local ordinances against abortion. 

Nebraska is the second state, after Texas, to have towns declaring themselves Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn. 

A Nebraska anti-abortion organization said even though most of these towns don’t have abortion clinics, the ordinances are a step toward the protection the unborn. 

“Other than Lubbock, Texas, none of these communities have abortion facilities or maybe even the potential of an abortion facility,” said Sandy Danek, executive director of Nebraska Right for Life. “However, this is an effort where the community comes together and rejects the idea of abortion.” 

On Nov. 8, Arnold, Brady, Hershey, Paxton and Wallace joined other three Nebraska towns in passing abortion ban ordinances. 

Only one town with a similar ordinance on the ballot voted against it. Residents in Curtis voted down the ordinance by a 41-point margin.  

Some of the towns saw tight margins in the election. In Paxton, a village of about 500, the difference was only eight votes. 

The ACLU of Nebraska said these ordinances will not have much effect legally. 

It said local ordinances are not enforceable if they conflict with state law. 

“Abortion does remain legal in Nebraska,” said Scout Richters, the ACLU’s legal and policy counsel. “Ordinances like the ones that were passed with this late election, ordinances that conflict with state law are unenforceable” 

But for Nebraska Right to Life, the impact goes beyond the legality. 

“The point is that they’re unified in their belief that all life is worthy of protection,” Danek said. “And that community coming together unified with that message is powerful.”

Richters said these ordinances will still cause harm by contributing to confusion and stigma. 

“They still serve to really stigmatize abortion care and really so fear and confusion among Nebraskans and especially Nebraskans that live in these places,” Richters said.

Both organizations said they are preparing ahead of the next legislative session, when abortion is expected to be up for discussion.

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