In the the Reddest of Red States, One Legislator May Turn the Tide on Anti-Choice Legislation


Nebraska started the ball rolling when it came to initiating the so-called “fetal pain” 20 week abortion bans. Yet heading into 2013, there is a strong possibility that legislation that further restricts abortions may not have as much play as it has in the past few years.

Nebraska has been a favorite for anti-choice activists to try out new initiatives because of its unicameral legislature. With only one chamber, there are fewer politicians to persuade, committees to bypass, or places for bills to get modified or amended.

But there is a downside to that single legislative chamber as well: with so few people creating and debating laws, it’s much easier for one person to hijack a bill and keep it from a vote.

Enter Ernie Chambers.

As a child growing up in Nebraska, Senator Ernie Chambers was one of the few names I knew in local politics. That says less about my own political savvy and more about the bombastic, passionate, headline-grabbing antics of the state’s most radically left-leaning legislator to hit the unicameral floor. Chambers has spent decades in office, sitting out the last four years after hitting a term limit, while Senator Brenda Council held the seat. The term limit amendment was introduced almost entirely with the purpose of removing Chambers from the legislature, even if just for a short period of time.

He’s a force to be reckoned with, and has even been called the “second House” in the unicameral because of political prowess at revamping and blocking bills he doesn’t support. He is also a legend when it comes to advocating for social justice, especially when it comes to civil rights issues, including reproductive rights.

How big of a change is the return of Chambers? Nebraska Right to Life is already toning down their plans for 2013, knowing that Chambers is likely to derail every bill they press. Julie Schmit-Albin of Nebraska Right to Life told the Omaha World Herald that the group “made hay while we had sunshine,” in reference to all of the bills pitched during his four years off. “He’s an obstructionist, particularly on pro-life bills. He’s not going to let anything through easily.”

Chambers coming back to the legislature isn’t likely to keep the anti-choice legislation off the floor completely, but will definitely play a role in how bills are presented at the very least.  Nebraska Right to Life has already learned that lesson, presenting their plan to revamp the state’s “right to know” website as a way to “better help women” rather than the obvious attempt to emotionally manipulate them into continuing a pregnancy.

Would the first 20-week ban have ever passed the unicameral with Chambers still in office. Probably. But it would most defininitely have been a debate to watch.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Follow Robin Marty on Twitter: @robinmarty

To schedule an interview with Robin Marty please contact Communications Director Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • adolmd

    Thank goodness for Mr. Chambers!! Any other people who TRUST WOMEN with personal health decisions willing to run for office? Please?  We need you.

     

    Or perhaps http://emilyslist.org/ can help fund some people to run!

     

     

  • women-are-not-stupid

    I fail to understand how people who supposedly promote women’s rights think women are too frail and/or fickle to receive ALL the information about their health and their bodies *before* they make a permanent decision like abortion. Why do you consider the plain, scientific facts to be “manipulation”? Do you really think women are stupid? You should be ashamed of yourself. If the SCIENTIFIC FACTS about pregnancy and abortion cause a woman to decide to stay pregnant, aren’t you pro-choice enough to support that? Or are you only pro-choice in terms of abortion, even if it means hiding the SCIENTIFIC FACTS from a woman so that she’ll choose abortion instead of making a different decision?

  • jennifer-starr

    Sure, I think women should receive accurate information–not unscientific rubbish about abortion causing infertility or breast cancer (it doesn’t) or info about so-called ‘post-abortion syndrome’, which doesn’t even exist. 

  • crowepps

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, SCIENTIFIC FACTS like “Jesus thinks you’re a slut” — you people are so good at talking out of both sides of your mouths I’m amazed you don’t strangle on your own venom.

  • give-em-hell-mary

    Because most women aren’t stupid and suicidal, they choose contraception, sterilization and abortion over the frequent deadly and bankrupting complications of childbirth.  Read up on obstetric bladder and bowel incontinence fistulas before ranting like the lying lunatic you are.