Nebraska Mental Health Screening Law Now Officially, Finally Over


A Nebraska bill that would have forced a woman seeking abortion to be screened for mental health issues, and to listen to descriptions of every conceivable, possible, imaginary medical “side effect” of abortion before she could get a termination was challenged and blocked from going into effect.

The state decided not to pursue an appeal, not wishing to spend the additional fees needed in legal costs. But an appeal was filed by a different source—Nebraskans United for Life.

Unlike Nebraska Right to Life, Nebraskans United for Life isn’t a powerhouse force pushing local and federal politicians into proposing and supporting anti-choice legislation. Instead, Nebraskans United for Life focuses more on “education,” by which they mean  counseling pregnant women into continuing pregnancies, providing services and support, and offering the standard crisis pregnancy center misinformation on abortion, birth control, and sexually transmitted infections. This makes them a natural advocate both for a law that creates more barriers to access to safe abortion care, and inserts more factually flawed pseudo-science and medical “findings” into the legal record.

Unlike in South Dakota, where abortion legislation was specifically written to insert crisis pregnancy centers into the doctor/patient relationship, the Nebraska version would have left the state’s anti-choice CPCs as outsiders. Still, NUL could have seen other benefits if the bill had been allowed to go into effect. As an organization that helps provide counseling for so called “post-abortion syndrome,” had the mental health bill become law, they would be able assist women in suing providers, one of the reasons the implimentation of the bill was previously blocked.

Now, the saga is over. The Supreme Court has denied a request to hear the case, leaving the law finally, officially blocked. Nebraska State Senator Danielle Conrad, one of the key opponents of the bill in the state’s unicameral legislature, considers that a final victory. 

“I am grateful the Supreme Court has rejected this appeal,” Conrad told RH RealityCheck via email.  “It is time to stop the war on women and the doctors that serve their medical needs. I am hopeful that state legislators will come together and work to support more effective strategies like education and prevention that can help us meet our shared goal of lessening the number of unintended pregnancies rather than relying upon options like this that result in little more than wasted time and costly litigation.

The failed bill was a piece of model legislation drafted by the Elliot Institute, the David Reardon anti-choice “research” arm of the movement, which also created the flawed “suicide ideation” study that South Dakota quoted in defense of their bill describing the alleged mental health risks of abortion. Reardon is known best as an expert on “post abortion syndrome,” as well as telling rape victims that they would be more likely to heal if they give birth to their rapists babies, that most women who have abortions are coerced, or that abortion causes child abuse.

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