When the Speaker of the Nebraska legislature introduced a bill earlier this year to ban virtually all abortions past 20 weeks — a clear attempt to shut down Dr. Carhart, one of the few health care providers still performing late-term procedures in the United States — Trust Women PAC immediately joined the coalition of organizations working against it. We’re the only national reproductive justice organizations with a specific focus on protecting the rights of physicians who provide comprehensive reproductive health care, including later terminations of pregnancy, and the rights of women and families to access these services.
In addition to lending our expertise regarding legislative strategy, Trust Women changed the framework of the Nebraska debate and gave legislators pause. We did so by bringing in two parents to tell the Judiciary Committee their personal stories about deciding to terminate a pregnancy after learning of severe complications after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Why did Trust Women bring parents into this debate that is so often dominated by legal and medical professionals, and technical talk on both sides? First, because of what I learned from working side by side with my mentor, Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas. He taught me the importance of listening to women and trusting them and their families to know what’s best when it comes to private medical decisions. He believed in the importance of teaching others to listen to women’s stories and trust them, too. We also did it to counteract years of anti-choice scare tactics — all the ugly propaganda about misinformed, selfish parents-to-be who didn’t want their babies and didn’t care about them. And finally, we did it to lend a human voice and a human face to the story.
Tiffany Campbell, a native Nebraskan and mother of three who blogged here on RHRC last week, made the decision, with her husband Chris, to abort one of their sons at 22 weeks after learning that their twins suffered from Twin-to-Twin-Transfusion Syndrome, and that they had the choice to save one baby or bury both. Timothy Mosher, a St. Louis-based career firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician, made the decision, with his wife Dawn, to abort their baby girl, who suffered from severe and untreatable Spina Bifida, rather than let her be born into extreme pain and a premature death.
Under the proposed Nebraska bill, both Tiffany and Tim, and their families, would have been stripped of their right to make their own personal medical decisions. The actions that they took, in consultation with medical experts, their families, and the God of their understanding, would be criminalized.
On the strategic level, Trust Women’s decision to have Tiffany and Tim testify was very successful. Tiffany’s OpEd — Don’t let abortion bill take away choices — which told the story of her family’s difficult, life-saving decision, appeared as the “Local View” piece in the Lincoln Journal Star (Nebraska’s second-largest newspaper and the paper of Lincoln, the state capitol). Later that day, just prior to the hearing, a reporter in the press conference held by the Right to Life contingent brought up Tiffany’s piece and her circumstances, stymieing those in attendance. That evening, our parents led the news on four different local TV stations, including the ABC and NBC affiliates. The state’s two largest papers both featured them in their coverage.
At this point in time, we’re waiting for the Nebraska Unicameral to bring LB1103 to the floor for a full vote. We need to send Nebraska politicians a reminder before the vote. We need to let them know that we haven’t forgotten Nebraska and that we’re not going away. Please take a moment today and Sign the petition telling them to vote “No.”
Our goal is to help legislators understand how this bill would adversely affect the lives of women and families. We continue to work with the parents and coalition partners in order to bring not only a local, but also a national spotlight to Nebraska, where the right of all people to make private medical decisions, but women especially, are on the verge of being trampled on in exchange for political gain.
Tell the Nebraska legislature: America is watching – they’re not going to get away with anything.