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The Lessons Learned from Passage of the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act”

Jan 27, 2011 | 01-January 2011 NRL News

NRL News
Page 7
January 2011
Volume 38
Issue 1

The Lessons Learned from Passage of the
“Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act”

Editor’s note. Pro-lifers will remember 2010 for many reasons. Legislatively, at or near the top of the list of accomplishments was passage of Nebraska’s “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” (LB 1103). This historic Nebraska law prohibits elective abortion at and after 20 weeks of pregnancy, at which time there is substantial medical evidence that the unborn child can feel pain. Key to its passage was the combined diligence and expertise of Nebraska Right to Life Executive Director Julie Schmit-Albin and NRLC Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch. The following is a Q & A with Julie.

Q: What are the lessons you took away from your experience passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act?

A: When you have a concept and you know what the end goal is, don’t deviate from the language of the original draft, if at all possible. Fortunately we had the best sponsor—our Speaker, Mike Flood—who is an attorney and knew the case law in and out. Speaker Flood led the way in laying down the best possible legislative record in both committee and in floor debate, which is key in case your legislation is legally challenged. And a legal challenge of innovative abortion law is almost a given. However, the fact that LB 1103 has not yet been challenged speaks to the solid record laid down by Speaker Flood and his fellow pro-life senators—and how seriously worried pro-abortionists are that a legal challenge might boomerang.

Q: You attended NRLC’s State Legislative Strategy Conference. We heard that one of the principal state legislative initiatives will be laws modeled on LB 1103. What did you come away from that December 7 conference thinking?

A: It solidified my belief that Mary Spaulding Balch is one of the very top legal minds in the country working on pro-life legislation. You can’t go wrong sticking with Mary’s guidance and the tremendous assistance provided by NRLC staff. Over the years legislators in Nebraska have come to realize that Mary knows her stuff, and that NRLC will back them up all the way. The fact that our “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” sent abortionist LeRoy Carhart [who specializes in performing abortions late in pregnancy] packing ought to cement in peoples’ minds that Mary is a brilliant strategist.

Q: Was there ever a point where you felt that LB 1103 was in mortal danger?

A: There were several attempts to weaken the bill which would have changed the whole essence of what we were trying to accomplish. This is something we always have to guard against. Sometimes the most well-intentioned amendments can effectively neutralize the bill and you don’t want to be in the position of not realizing this until after the fact. In many ways legislation passed in the states is driving the public debate. Each legislative debate potentially means the real facts about abortion get clearly laid out. And because the truth is being revealed, public opinion is shifting to the pro-life side.

Q: Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is behind so-called “web-cam” abortions which are currently being performed in Iowa. Based in Iowa, it also operates abortion clinics in Nebraska.

A: We will fight its spread to Nebraska. With web-cam chemical abortions they hope to overcome two of their biggest obstacles: access and lack of abortionists who are willing to do surgical abortions. The abortionist is not in the same room with the woman; he could be hundreds of miles away. He opens a drawer electronically from which the woman takes misoprostol and mifepristone—the two drugs that make up the RU486 chemical abortion technique. PP of the Heartland is polluting a legitimate form of health care delivery—consultations over web cams—to increase access, especially in geographically rural states. This ties into PPFA’s new national business model. They want to spread their tentacles reaching into counties which have never seen a Planned Parenthood clinic. They hope that if they increase the numbers of chemical abortions done through a video conferencing system, it will further corrupt the practice of medicine and “mainstream” abortion as just another “service.”