Life in Lincoln: A Vote to End the Violence

July 27, 2020

It's a form of abortion so gruesome, so barbaric, that when it was described on the Nebraska Senate floor, one Republican said, "If you don't have a tear in your eye from watching that, you're coldblooded." We're talking about a procedure, Dr. Anthony Levatino explains, of "reaching into a woman's uterus with forceps and 'grabbing whatever is there. Maybe you rip off a leg, which is about four-inches long,' then you pull out 'an arm, the spine. The skull is the most difficult part. Sometimes there's a little face staring up at you." It is, he insisted, an "absolutely brutal procedure." One that Nebraska, as early as this week, hopes to outlaw.

Dismemberment abortion is something a lot of doctors never get used to. Dr. Levatino certainly didn't. When he and his wife lost their five-year-old daughter, the grief of destroying other people's unborn children gradually overwhelmed him. He quit those abortions. And he's hoping -- along with so many others -- that Nebraska will as well.

Late last week, the Cornhuskers got one step closer to that goal -- using a special maneuver to send state Sen. Suzanne Geist's (R) bill out of the Judiciary Committee and onto the floor. Friday, on "Washington Watch," she told Sarah Perry that she was thrilled that not only did she have the 25 votes she needed, but five more to spare. To the critics, who say that there are better ways to spend the state's time, Suzanne insists there's nothing more important than human dignity.

"First, let me just clarify that what we're doing is banning a procedure that takes place during the second trimester of pregnancy -- so between weeks 12 and 24. We're not going earlier than that. [This is] a very narrowly crafted bill. And what it would do is it would not allow an abortion physician to dismember, or actually pull the arms and legs off of a living baby." If LB814 passes, Suzanne explains, it would be a class four felony with a fine of $10,000 if a physician in the state commits this crime. It's a strong penalty, she agreed, but it "needs teeth" if it's going to deter people.

The legislation, she told listeners, could be on the floor as soon as this Tuesday. "We do things a little bit differently in Nebraska," Suzanne said. "For our filibuster, it's a six-hour debate." But under this speaker's rules, after three hours, Republicans have to prove that they can get at least 33 votes before they continue to the other three hours of debate. Is she optimistic? "We do see a positive pathway to get at least 33 votes. Now, I do not have iron-clad [commitments] yet... So I do feel -- I don't want to say 'very confident,' that's stepping too far -- but I'm very encouraged that the possibility is [that we] could actually get this passed."

You can help! If you live in Nebraska, call or email your state senators and tell them to end the atrocity of dismemberment abortion. For more information on the dangers of this practice -- not just to babies, but to mothers, check out FRC's Issue Analysis here.