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Nebraska governor signs bill banning most abortions after 12 weeks, gender-affirming care for those under 19


(CNN) Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, a Republican, signed a bill Monday banning most abortions after 12 weeks, with exceptions for sexual assault, incest and medical emergencies.

The bill does not define “medical emergency,” and the legislation includes a clause that would put the rules into effect immediately the day after it is signed.

LB 574, which passed the state’s Republican-controlled unicameral Legislature by a 33-15 vote last week, also bans gender-affirming care for people under 19. The abortion amendment was inserted into the legislation after previous efforts to restrict abortions failed to overcome a filibuster.

The bill only allows transition medical procedures after a “waiting period” and “therapeutic hours” to determine whether a person’s gender dysphoria is “long-lasting and intense.” The details of these provisions will be determined by the Chief Medical Officer of Nebraska’s Division of Public Health.

In a statement released after the bill’s passage, Pillen said, “All children deserve a chance to grow and live happy, fruitful lives. This includes preborn boys and girls, and it includes children struggling with their gender identity. These children deserve the opportunity to grow and explore who they are and want to be, and they can do so without making irreversible decisions that should be made when they are fully grown.”

The new law reflects ongoing legislative efforts around the United States to limit access to abortion and gender-affirming care. More than a dozen states have moved to restrict gender-affirming care by 2023, and more than 130 bills targeting LGBTQ rights, particularly health care for transgender patients, have been introduced nationwide this legislative session, according to data compiled by American Civil Liberties Union.

“From North Carolina to Nebraska, extremists, so-called leaders, continue to restrict access to abortion across the nation,” Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted Monday. “Enough is enough. We need a federal law to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade to women in all 50 states.”

Major medical associations say gender-affirming care is clinically appropriate for children and adults with gender dysphoria, the psychological disorder that can occur when a person’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth don’t match, according to the American Psychiatric Association. But some Republicans have expressed concern about the long-term results of the treatments.

Some Nebraskans have expressed displeasure with the bill, and many protested and filled the halls of the state Capitol last week as lawmakers spoke, resulting in the arrest of several people Friday on charges ranging from disturbing the peace to obstructing a government operation.

ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Mindy Rush Chipman said in a statement last week that the consequences of the law will be “devastating.”

“To be clear, we refuse to accept this as our new normal. This vote will not be the final word. We are actively exploring our options to address the harm of this extreme legislation, and that work will have the full focus of our team. This is not over, not by a long shot,” Chipman said.

This story has been updated with additional information Monday.

CNN’s Michelle Watson and Tina Burnside contributed to this report.

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