Update: This transcript has been updated to reflect our current AP Stylebook guidelines.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: You’re listening to “KZUM News” on 89.3 KZUM Lincoln and KZUM HD.
[Fades in on the “KZUM News” program music, an original production of Jack Rodenburg. The music fades out.]
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Good afternoon and welcome to today’s edition of “KZUM News”, where we fill you in on what’s been going on in Lincoln this week. I am the KZUM News Director, and your host, Amantha Dickman.
And, wherever you are this morning, I hope that you’re hanging out somewhere cool. After all, it is pretty toasty this afternoon and it’s really only supposed to get hotter. Don’t forget to drink your water, stay in those shaded areas, and do whatever it takes to avoid that heat exhaustion, because that’s not what anybody wants from their afternoon, especially not on a weekend.
So, let’s see if we can take your mind off of that heat for, you know, at least an hour or so, because we have quite the lineup for you this week.
For those of you who tuned in last week, I’m sure you’ve been waiting with bated breath to hear a little more about that leaked Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization draft. And, I promise, this time I won’t give you just a teaser today. We’re gonna look at its impact on local Nebraskans and what Nebraska officials have said their next steps will be should the decision stand as is.
Finally, we’re gonna end today with an audio recording from the Humanities Nebraska event, “Weathering Uncertainty: Conversations about Climate in Nebraska.” If you didn’t get a chance to attend that June 15 panel hosted by the Lied Center for Performing Arts, we have you covered. Humanities Nebraska was more than kind enough to share that audio with us so that you can learn more about climate change in Nebraska, from the people who actually know about the subject, instead of me just telling you about the subject.
But before we jump into either of these stories, I have a quick amendment to make to last week’s show.
If you were listening last week, I’m sure that you noticed that our Covid-19 update… well… needed an update. I do apologize for all of the confusion. The show last week was prerecorded because I was off enjoying vacation time on a sunny beach where the temperatures were in the 70s.
And, in that short time between recording the show and airing the show, a lot happened.
On June 7, in a press release from City Communications, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department announced that the Covid-19 risk dial was moving to elevated yellow after spending three consecutive weeks at mid-yellow. We are now, currently, on our second week in elevated yellow.
And, as we mentioned last week, that risk dial is influenced by a variety of factors, including confirmed cases, hospitalization rates, and the percentage of virus particles in the wastewater.
On last week’s show, Director Patricia Lopez from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department gave us some more insight on how that wastewater surveillance system works in her interview.
She noted that the city of Lincoln has been conducting wastewater surveillance since June of 2021. Every week, Lincoln Transportation and Utility staff collect samples of the wastewater and those samples are then tested by Biobot Analytics and Ceres Nanosciences, both of whom are recognized leaders in wastewater-based epidemiology.
Of course, all of these factors showed an increase last week, prompting that risk dial to move to elevated yellow. Meanwhile, this week has shown a slight decrease in confirmed cases, hospitalization, and virus particles in the wastewater. However, that local positivity rate was higher jumping from 14.4% that first week of June to 16.7% last weekend.
Now, obviously, we’re at a stage where it’s hard to pinpoint whether this is the beginning of another giant wave or just a tiny uptick in cases. But the health department does continue to encourage people to keep an eye out for those Covid-19 symptoms. Those symptoms may have a lot of overlap with the flu, so, in case you need a reminder, you’re looking at fever or chills, coughing, shortness of breath, maybe even difficulty breathing, along with fatigue, muscle, body, or headaches, new loss of taste or smell congestion, runny nose, sore, throat nausea, vomiting, even, maybe, potentially, diarrhea. Now, if you do have any of these symptoms, the health department asks that you follow the current public health guidance posted at covid19.lincoln.ne.gov.
If you are feeling sick, try to stay home as much as possible. If you do need to leave, don’t forget to take a mask with you and try to get tested as soon as possible, especially since you have the option of going to that local testing center or getting an at-home test. If that test happens to come back positive, don’t forget that the CDC’s current quarantine guidelines are five days of quarantining for those with mild or no symptoms and 10 days for severe symptoms or individuals with weakened immune systems. Continue to use precautions for at least 10 days after your positive test.
Lastly, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department encourages everyone to get vaccinated and boosted if possible. Those booster and vaccination doses help limit the severity of Covid-19 symptoms, should you contract the virus.
If you are interested in that second booster dose, it is currently available for those individuals who are age 50 and up, or those who are age 12 and up with weakened immune systems. Those second booster shots will be available at various walk-in Covid-19 vaccination clinics held at our local elementary schools throughout June.
If you are interested in that second booster dose, it is currently available for those individuals who are age 50 and up, or those who are age 12 and up with weakened immune systems. Those second booster shots will be available at various walk-in Covid-19 vaccination clinics held at our local elementary schools throughout June.
These clinics are every Tuesday and Thursday open from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. This next one, coming up on the 21 will be hosted at Elliot Elementary School. June 23 clinic will be held at Norwood Park Elementary School and the June 28 at Hartley Elementary School. And the final vaccination clinic held [on] June 30 will be located at Pershing Elementary School. Everyone eligible for vaccination or booster shots can walk in, or you can schedule that appointment at covid19.ne.gov. And please remember that all children aged 18 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. We’ll also take this moment to remind you that masks are required at all Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department vaccination clinics.
Now, if you find that you want to double-check any of this information later, you can find it all at the app.lincoln.ne.gov/city/covid19/ web address. Clinic locations and times can be found specifically under the vaccination information tab.
As we continue to monitor those virus trends, we will keep you updated with the latest information on a weekly basis. So, don’t forget to check in for next week.
Now we’re going to switch some gears and jump right into that leaked Dobbs versus Jackson Women’s Health Organization opinion piece, especially since I know so many of you are so eager to learn more.
[Audio from the May 3 rally at the Capitol held by Planned Parenthood begins playing.]
Amantha Dickman, News Director: What you heard is going to be that audio from the May 3 rally at the Lincoln Capitol building. Organized by Planned Parenthood, hundreds gathered after a court employee leaked the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization draft written by the Supreme Court. The leaked draft revealed that the Supreme Court is currently considering, and leaning heavily towards, overturning Roe v. Wade.
Now overturning that 1973 decision would end federal protection for abortion, leaving that decision up to the states. And many Nebraska officials, including Pete Ricketts and Senator Deb Fischer, have already announced their support of the overturn.
In his interview with CNN on May 15, Governor Ricketts announced plans to call for an emergency session should Roe v. Wade be overturned. A few days later, on the 18, he clarified his support for the Supreme Court’s leaked decision by releasing the following statement on Facebook,
“Roe v. Wade stole the decision on abortion regulations from the states where it rightfully belongs. In Nebraska, we look forward to the possibility of Roe being overturned and that decision returning to our citizens.
Instead of recognizing this as an opportunity for dialogue on the issue, Democrats in Washington are attempting to force the radical abortion laws rivaling those of North Korea and China. The bill they just tried to pass in the Senate would force all 50 states to allow abortions up until the moment of birth.
It would strip doctors of their right to conscience and force them to abort fully viable babies against their morals. And it would remove parents from the decision when their young daughters are pressured into getting an abortion. Democrats are far from the days of pushing for abortion that is safe, legal, and rare.
Instead, they’re fighting for a radical abortion agenda that completely denigrates the value of human life. Nebraska is a pro-life state. If Roe is overturned, we will take every step we can to protect our pre-born babies.”
Now you just heard Pete Rickett’s May 18 Facebook announcement in support of banning abortion in Nebraska should Roe v. Wade be overturned. This announcement comes shortly after the Nebraska State Legislature blocked the latest measure to ban abortions in Nebraska.
Introduced by Senator Joni Albrecht, LB933 had the Nebraska state legislature passionately divided. Senator Megan Hunt of Omaha district 8 described LB933’s outline for us.
Senator Megan Hunt, Representative of Omaha 8th District: This year in the legislature. We blocked LB933, which was introduced by Senator Joni Albrecht. And it would’ve banned all abortion in Nebraska, as well as made treatments like in vitro fertilization long-term contraception, like IUDs and emergency contraception, all of these things would be illegal in Nebraska if this bill had passed. And in addition to all of this, it would’ve turned doctors into felons for using their best medical judgment with their patients. So from top to bottom, this was a bill that was not ready for the floor when we debated it. And it didn’t reflect the views of most Nebraskans.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Is this bill currently being refined and being considered for future proposition?
Senator Megan Hunt, Representative of Omaha 8th District: I can’t speak to what, um, opponents of abortion rights are doing. I don’t know what kind of bills they’re working on or how they’re refining or, or changing anything they’ve introduced in the past. But I think that we should prepare and expect a bill like LB933 to be reintroduced if we go into a special session after the DOD’s decision comes down from the courts officially.
From everything I’m hearing, it sounds like we should expect to go into a special session this fall for the purpose of completely outlawing abortion in Nebraska. So, we can probably expect to see a bill like that be introduced. Although we won’t know the specifics of the bill until it’s introduced.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: 33 votes were required to overcome the filibuster, but the session fell short and the bill was ultimately blocked.
But if you want to know how your representatives voted, you can find that link on their website or in our archive transcript for this show at kzum.org under the ‘KZUM News’ tab. Just click on today’s show and you can check it out.
Next, we’ll hear from Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group, and learn more about their plans to ban abortion in Nebraska.
Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group: Hi, this is Sandy.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Hi, Sandy. How are you?
Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group: I’m good. I’m sorry. I got delayed in an appointment.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: No problem. We’re just glad you could join us here today. Now we’re just gonna jump right in with some of those easier questions. How long have you been with the organization?
Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group: I started on a volunteer basis, back in 1989. Then I joined the board probably in around the year 2000 and I took the Executive Director position a little less than two years ago.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Well, congratulations on your promotion for one.
Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group: Thank you. Thank you.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And can you tell us a little bit about who the Nebraska Right to Life group is and what your goals are?
Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group: So, as I said, Nebraska Right to Life was established in 1973, soon after the Roe v. Wade decision was struck. We are a state affiliate to [the] National Right to Life committee out of DC. And the structure of the organization is in that National Right to Life has a state affiliate in each state throughout the nation.
Then Nebraska Rights Life has chapters throughout its state communities all over the state where they have Right to Life groups that basically do the same work that we’re doing on a local level. Our goals are essentially to protect all human life from beginning of conception to natural death. So, we’re of course looking for life-affirming options during an untimed pregnancy. We’re looking to protect those who are disabled, elderly. And we also take a life-affirming position on bioethical issues; that being embryonic stem cell research. We’re certainly concerned for anything that would compromise life in any way for what we believe to be immoral research.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Obviously, recently, we’ve had a big discussion regarding the Dobbs v. Jackson released leaked opinion piece. Can you tell us a little bit about where the Nebraska Right to Life stands in regard to this leaked opinion piece and your thoughts and reactions to it?
Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group: Certainly. Our position would be that we are cautiously awaiting the decision, the final decision of the United States Supreme Court. I understand that the leak gave a precursor to what they may be doing, but we know, through the process of the Supreme Court rendering their final decision, it can be different than what we saw in the leaked document.
So, it’s difficult for us to give an affirmative statement on what they may do when we don’t know for certain what they will be doing.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And assuming that decision stands as it was leaked, what would your next steps be or your organization’s next steps be?
Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group: Well, in this last legislative session, as you know, we attempted to pass LB933, which would give Nebraska an ability to ban abortion except for life of the mother exceptions. And we would certainly look at that legislation again, whether that would be with a special session – and, certainly, this is up to the governor, it’s not our decision – or in the next legislative session. And there’s a little bit of different opinion on either side of how we go about this, but ultimately the decision lies with the governor.
If this decision comes down as we anticipate it may – that Roe v. Wade is overturned – it simply means that the decision for what happens with abortion comes back to the state level.
And there are many people, even Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed that that was the best-case scenario, that each state makes that determination for themselves. Do they want abortion legal? And if they do, at what level?
Currently in Nebraska, it is illegal to perform an abortion beyond 20 weeks. We passed that bill in 2010. And that essentially said that, because a baby feels pain, for humanity reasons, we will not perform an abortion beyond 20 weeks gestation. So, you can have an abortion, currently, in Nebraska up to that 20-week point. So, we would have to make a determination on what we’re going to do because, currently, we don’t have anything in law that tells us what we’re going to do about abortion. Except for the 20-week ban that is currently in existence.
So we would work toward… whether we would use LB933 in its current form. It’s possible that we might be altering it and making some adjustments to some current concerns. I do know that in the discussions we’ve had, I think we’re a little caught off guard with the concern that people have about IVF. It’s certainly is not our intention to look at IVF as an issue. Our goal is to eliminate the intentional and deliberate act of killing a child within the womb.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: So, you… but your organization does not take issue with the embryos that IVF discards every month or year?
Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group: Well, certainly we would look at encouraging people to donate those embryos.
Of course, we would never want the destruction of embryos, you know, in terms of the implantation of an embryo in an IVF procedure is what I’m referring to. That we do not take a position on, but any destruction of an embryonic life. We would take issue with and we would encourage those embryos to be donated and make made available for adoption.
And there are programs. There are programs for that.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: I was not aware that there are programs for that. Can you give us some examples?
Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group: It’s… I believe the program that I’m thinking of is called ‘Snowflakes.’ I’d have to do a little more research to update my knowledge of it but, essentially, it’s a program that allows you to take those frozen embryos, put ’em in an adoption process.
And those people who are in need of that, you know, can take on those living embryos and go through the IVF procedure with the permission of the parents. Donating these embryos, similar to what a normal adoption would be.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And how do you picture your organization’s role changing should this leaked opinion piece decision stand?
Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group: Well, certainly our goal has always been to educate on the life issues. And, if indeed Roe v. Wade is overturned, we see our role as even having a larger role in terms of offering that education to understand.
We believe it’s necessary to respect the life in the womb and to offer life-affirming alternatives. We’ve always been central to promoting like pregnancy health centers, which we have many in Nebraska; eight times more pregnancy health centers than we have abortion facilities. We wouldn’t… we would continue to promote and network at that level but probably increase the level at a more proportionate stage because we are in a place where we would not be using abortion as birth control – which I fear many times it’s being used at the level of which we see abortion in this country.
So we would, of course, want to reach young people, especially, instilling in them why do we feel that it’s necessary to protect life. Again, educating on field development, on alternatives, on ways that we can help a woman deal with the challenges that she may have in an unplanned pregnancy. My feeling is if we were to take all of the financial resources – which is billions of dollars that we give to people like Planned Parenthood – and put those towards resources for women who are in an unplanned pregnancy, offering education, support, financial support or resources that help them establish their life once their child is born – whether they choose to parent or adopt – then we, I believe would see a much better outcome than our current system, which is just continuing to pour tax dollar after tax dollar into promoting and performing abortions.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And, out of curiosity, is part of your stance that you would like Planned Parenthood to be dismantled?
Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group: I believe so, yes. Because they are the largest provider of abortion in our nation. And have they have evolved into being almost solely about performing abortions?
When you look at their statistics and you see how much they have leaned toward creating quotas, that each facility has to perform a certain level of abortion performance in order to remain open, it becomes pretty clear that their priority is about abortion performance. And it’s difficult to find the good of what they may do and, I guess, as a pro-life community, we would probably question whatever good they may do outweighs the fact that they’re working towards taking the life of unborn children at a substantially high level.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Absolutely. Thank you, Sandy. Have a good afternoon.
Sandy Danek, Executive Director of the Nebraska Right to Life group: You bet. Bye-bye, you too.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: We do have some clarifications to make.
Sandy Danek claims that 95% of Planned Parenthood services are abortions and that each clinic has monthly abortion quotas to meet. The KZUM newsroom has fact-checked this information and found it to be incorrect. The Planned Parenthood annual report for 2019 and 2020, which takes in account data from all of its locations across the country, found that abortions only make up 3 percent of all available services offered by the organization.
Their primary services consist of STI testing and treatment as well as contraceptive services. The report also noted that not all Planned Parenthood clinics are capable of performing abortions.
Here to tell us a little bit more about Planned Parenthood is Andi Curry Grubb, the state executive director for Nebraska and the Planned Parenthood of North Central States.
And can you tell me a little bit about what your position is with Planned Parenthood?
Andi Curry Grubb, Executive Director for Nebraska: Sure. So, I have two official roles. Because we have a couple [of] different entities within the work that we do. So, I am the state executive director for Nebraska, for Planned Parenthood North Central States. And that is our 501(c)(3) organization that provides sexual reproductive, healthcare, education, and advocacy, across the five states.
And then I also am the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska. Which is a 501(c)(4) organization. And this is the organization that really works both legislatively and electorally to protect the right to sexual reproductive, healthcare, and education in our state of Nebraska.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Can you clarify what services Planned Parenthood provides and what that statistic is?
Andi Curry Grubb, Executive Director for Nebraska: Yeah. So, generally, from the perspective of our healthcare services, we provide the full spectrum of comprehensive sexual reproductive healthcare at our clinics in Nebraska. So it’s in Lincoln and in Omaha as well as, you know, Planned Parenthoods across the country.
And what that entails is, you know, everything from counseling and the provision of birth control options, which tends to be the service that we see the most patients for. That tends to be the highest percentage of what we do, as well as STD testing and treatment. Again, those two tend to be the highest percentage of our work.
We also do cancer screenings, well-woman visits, well-person visits, breast exams, pap smears… you know, kind of all the standard women’s reproductive healthcare type of services.
The one, you know, obviously we are also very well known for providing abortions. We see that as a full complete part of the comprehensive healthcare that we provide nationally. That is, you know, always kind of recorded as 3% of what we do in our healthcare clinics, across the country.
And that’s pretty similar to what it is here, too.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: You mentioned, of course, that there is the legislative side that you work with as well. Can you tell us a bit about what work Planned Parenthood has been engaging in the last couple [of] years and what the organization advocates for?
Andi Curry Grubb, Executive Director for Nebraska: Yeah, absolutely.
So, again, our Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska has existed for a number of years. So we really specifically advocate for the patients and the community members that are served by Planned Parenthood North Central States. So making sure that they have the full access that they need to whatever services we provide and anything that would try to restrict those or anything we think we can do to, expand those. That’s what we’re looking at from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Nebraska.
A lot of what that is defensive. You know, oftentimes we’re working on preventing further restrictions to the services that we provide. Often that is abortion-related. But there are other restrictions that have been attempted, to other things, that we do as well.
Most recently, you know, this past year, our primary focus was on both protecting the right to access abortion in Nebraska and really beginning that work of trying to expand it because in Nebraska – like so many other states – folks don’t realize that it’s already relatively challenging to access an abortion.
There are a lot of restrictions in place. The Guttmacher Institute, which is kind of the leading research institute on, access to abortion, considers Nebraska hostile to abortion rights. So, you know, our patients already have to go through quite a few barriers to access care. So rather than just trying to prevent more barriers from being put in place, we want to also really start looking at how can we roll back some of the barriers that exist so that folks can have more complete access to care.
So that’s what we’ve been really focusing on the last couple [of] years, in this last year in particular. And it’s heated up a lot, obviously with the Supreme Court and what we’re anticipating from them.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And for listeners who may not be familiar with what the current barriers are in Nebraska, can you outline what those are?
Andi Curry Grubb, Executive Director for Nebraska: Sure. So. There’s a couple that we’ve really, you know, I think there’s like 15 different restrictions on the books that somehow hinder people’s ability to access abortion without restriction. The ones that we’ve really been focusing in on, are the ones that we hear from patients regularly, are the ones that cause the greatest challenge to accessing services.
One of those is just geographic access. We are a state that is part of what’s called the ‘abortion desert.’ That really… through the entire middle of the country, all the way from the north to the south, there’s this giant red section that is kind of the least accessible area for abortions in the country. And most of Western Nebraska is a part of that. So, we have two clinics in Nebraska that provide abortions from Planned Parenthood and then there’s an independent abortion provider in Bellevue as well. All of those are in the Eastern part of the state. So folks in Western Nebraska tend to, you know, have to decide like… which is easier: is it easier to go to Colorado or is it easier to come to Lincoln?
And one of the things that we could do, to kind of alleviate that burden for patients, is [to] undo a law that prevents telemedicine from being used in Nebraska for medication abortion. So, Senator Megan Hunt has introduced this bill every year since she’s been in office, to repeal this law banning telehealth for abortions. And this has become even more relevant since the FDA earlier this year changed the provisions for how the medications used in medication abortion can be accessed. It used to be that you had to physically get the medication from a physician but they changed that so that it can be either mailed to you or it can be picked up at a pharmacy. But you still have to see a physician through a telehealth visit to get the prescription. So, in Nebraska, that change doesn’t impact our patients and our state because of that law, banning telehealth. So, you know, and there’s vast, vast research that says telehealth for abortion access is completely safe and effective. There is no difference in the safety or anything, whether folks access that through telehealth or through in person in a clinic. So, there’s really no reason for that law other than to restrict access. So that’s a big one that we’ve really been trying to look at for years.
Another one that we looked at this year is that the state of Nebraska has a law that prevents any health insurance from covering the cost of an abortion in our state. So that includes public health insurance and private health insurance. So, private health insurance in Nebraska is not allowed to cover the cost of an abortion without an additional writer being added. And we learned this past year through the hearings around this bill to repeal that law. that most insurance companies don’t even offer the writer, even if they, someone wanted to purchase it. So, it’s basically saying that insurance is never allowed to be used to cover the cost of an abortion. So, everyone who needs abortion care has to pay out-of-pocket costs. That obviously is another barrier to patients accessing care.
So those are kind of two of the biggest ones that we’ve really been focused on over the years. It’s just two, but it’s the two that we find have the greatest impact on patients accessing care.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Obviously the Dobbs v. Jackson opinion leak has made quite the stir the last couple [of] weeks. Can you kind of outline what you think… what steps Nebraska officials would take if the decision were to stand as is?
Andi Curry Grubb, Executive Director for Nebraska: Yeah. So, we anticipate the decision to be similar to what was leaked. We are kind of preparing for the worst-case scenario if Roe v. Wade, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, both being overturned.
In Nebraska, what that means immediately is nothing. Abortion will remain legal in Nebraska, even with that decision. There has to be legislative action in order for anything to change. So, we like to just make sure that, you know, one of the things that’s challenging in all of this is it’s confusing for patients who are trying to access care.
And we want to just remind them and, and reinforce that abortion is still legal in our state and still accessible until further action is taken.
So to answer your initial question, we’ve seen the same things you all have that, um, the governor is, is likely going to call a special session following the SCOTUS opinion that he would call a special session in order to try to ban on abortion again.
So, basically, similar to what they did this legislative session, they were not successful. They’re going to try again in a special session to see if they can be successful, which we don’t think anything’s going to change.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And I do know that you’re not a lawyer. However, we do have a question here that is kind of looking for a more understandable definition of what a trigger law is and how Planned Parenthood is combating those.
Andi Curry Grubb, Executive Director for Nebraska: Yeah.
So trigger laws are laws that are not immediately enforceable, but that are triggered by something else, right? So, in the case of abortion, most of what we see is that states have put these trigger laws on the book saying that if the federal protection for abortion rights is removed, so, you know, Roe v. Wade being overturned or some sort of legislative action being taken at the federal level, something like that, then these laws would immediately go into effect to ban abortion in that state. So you know, it’s similar to what it sounds like, that they’re triggered by other activity at the federal level. Okay.
In terms of what Planned Parenthood is doing, you know, there currently are 13 states that have trigger laws on the books. Two of them are in our affiliate, our five-state affiliate that Nebraska is a part of. North and South Dakota both have trigger laws on the books. And so we have been, for some time, preparing for how to ensure access for patients within the bounds of the law. If those trigger laws go into effect – South Dakota is kind of the primary one. We don’t actually provide abortions in North Dakota. There is one provider there that is an independent provider. But, in South Dakota, we do provide abortion care in our clinic in Sioux Falls. And we are working on kind of preparing for the very real possibility that those services will become illegal and how we can make sure that we can get patients access to care as best as possible.
And legally, of course. You know, Planned Parenthood is always going to work within the limits of the law, and also fight against those laws, in the ways that we have to make sure that we can do everything we possibly can to make sure patients have access.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: While we have heard from both opponents and advocates for abortion, we still haven’t really discussed the legal implications an overturn might have on Nebraskan citizens.
So, sitting down with us today, we also have Scout Richters of the ACLU of Nebraska to discuss what those legal implications might look like.
What is your focus with the ACLU? Do you have a particular aspect of law that you specialize in?
Scout Richters, Legal and Policy Council: Yeah. So, I am a legal and policy council. So my work spans the more traditional legal work and policy work. And then my specific areas of focus are gender equity, reproductive rights issues, and also juvenile law.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: So, I’m sure that you have heard all about the released Roe v. Wade opinion piece. For listeners who might not have a good idea of what exactly the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 covers, can you tell us a little bit about what was mapped out in that decision?
Scout Richters, Legal and Policy Council: Yes, certainly.
Roe v. Wade is the case that was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1973. What it has done, is it has been 50 years of precedent that people have come to rely on. And what it does is really hold that people have the fundamental right to have an abortion and make those decisions.
And states are not permitted to put into place what have been called undue burdens in the path of someone seeking abortion care. So that has what has been settled for 50 years. And people all across the country have come to be able to rely on that and know that they’ve had that fundamental right and, and rely on that to make decisions that are best for themselves and best for their families.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And what in this case is considered an undue burden?
Scout Richters, Legal and Policy Council: So that is a long-standing question that, that states, um, and antiabortion politicians repeatedly tried to push the envelope to enact laws that pass the test and, and aren’t considered an undue burden. But really what they serve to do is push abortion care farther and farther out of reach for people.
And we know that all of those restrictions have the greatest harm on the most marginalized. So people with low incomes, people of color, young people, immigrants. And, and those are always the people that have been hardest hit by abortion restrictions, even when we’ve had Roe v. Wade as settled law.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And I’m, I’m sure that you’ve gotten all the updates on what exactly the most recently released opinion piece lays out. Can you kind of give us a walkthrough of what this opinion piece is?
Scout Richters, Legal and Policy Council: Yeah, so the leaked draft opinion, and I do want to be clear that it is a draft, um, that is not the law of the lands.
I want to make clear that abortion is still safe and legal in Nebraska. But what, what this leaked draft opinion really did is it really confirmed all of our deepest fears that the Supreme Court is poised and is ready to take away our ability to control if and when to have a child.
We know that millions of people, if this, if this decision if this leaked decision is indicative of what the actual decision will be, we know that millions of people will be forced to remain pregnant against their will and we’ve already seen that devastation play out in Texas with the SB8, um, law that’s in place. Um, and we’ve seen that devastation. We’ve seen that situation where Texans are forced to, um, who, um, get the money together and get the resources together to travel across state lines, to seek care and that’s only if they have the resources and means to do that.
So, some Texans are literally forced to remain pregnant against their will, as we speak. And the fact is, is that reality or excuse me, that nightmare rather could be the reality for millions across the country, in the near future?
Amantha Dickman, News Director: I’ve heard a lot of talk from various sources where people are worried that should Roe v. Wade be overturned and they follow through with this opinion piece, that they’re worried it’s going to affect other aspects of law-making, specifically the ninth and 14th amendment. Can you talk a little bit about that thinking and why people would be concerned about the effects on the ninth and 14th amendments?
Scout Richters, Legal and Policy Council: Yeah. So the leaked draft opinion makes mention of the 14th amendment and its protections concerning the right to privacy. And the fact is, is that we know that politicians that are passing abortion bans won’t stop by just pushing that care out of reach. They’re also attacking birth control, the right for people to marry who they love, a right to vote, and even to control what we learn in the classroom.
But I do want to make clear that, right now, we at the ACLU are laser-focused on this abortion leaked draft because it’s, it’s the most immediate threat and something that we’ve been preparing for and are poised to combat just as we have in the, in the last legislative session. And we’re ready to take on that fight again because the ACLU is so committed to fighting for people to be able to control their own bodies and their own lives and their own futures.
But I do want to also make clear that Nebraska already has huge barriers to access for people who are seeking abortion care. We have things like waiting periods, a ban on telemedicine abortion when we know it’s safe and effective, and we banned it based only on politics and not medicine or safety. We have a situation where a safe and effective method of second-trimester abortion is banned here. So, we have a host of barriers that already prevent people from accessing care. We have only three abortion providers in the state and no providers west of Lincoln. So, there’s already a huge disparity in who’s able to get care in Nebraska. And so, I think it’s important for folks to know we’re already hostile to abortion rights. And the bottom line is that we can’t afford any more restrictions or any more.
Because people need to access abortion because abortion is healthcare plain and simple.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: In anticipation of that final decision being released later this month, local and federal government bodies have begun preparation for violence.
Senator Sasse has already condemned this violence is un-American, after federal affidavits revealed that a man was arrested for attempting to murder Judge Kavanaugh at his Maryland home.
Ben Sasse, Nebraska State Senator: “Look, anyone championing political violence is an un-American lunatic. This is a dangerous moment. A would-be assassin was just arrested outside justice Kavanaugh’s house and pro-life care centers have been attacked relentlessly around the country.
The president has an obligation to personally and forcefully denounce the left’s intimidation campaign and to make it absolutely clear that there is no place in America for political violence, no more mealy-mouthed statements. The attorney general needs to enforce the law before someone gets killed. The Supreme Court must be allowed to do its job and pregnancy care centers who love moms and babies must be allowed to operate without fear of threats, firebombs, or vandalism.”
Amantha Dickman, News Director: You just heard Senator Sasse’s statement condemning those who use violence to influence pending judicial decisions. And, according to a press release from his offices, he has banded together with Senators Lindsay Graham, Mike Lee, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, John Kennedy, and Marsha Blackburn in hopes of charging individuals seeking to influence pending judicial decisions through violence or demonstration with criminal charges.
And now that we’ve thrown all of that information at you, I’d like to remind you that the final decision has not been made yet. Right now, we’re looking at an official release date being made public around the end of this month, so, as soon as we have more information, we will give you that update. Now we’ve got a quick break coming up, but after that, we’re going to give you a taste of that Humanities Nebraska panel, that way, you know, what you’re signing up for because we’re going to be including segments from that panel for the next couple of shows. So, if you want to learn more, don’t forget to tune in next week as well. And don’t buzz away. We’ll follow up in just a moment.
[“KZUM News” transition music, an original piece composed by Jack Rodenburg, fades in and then out. KZUM Radio’s usual underwriting and public services announcements air at scheduled times throughout the hour.]
Amantha Dickman, News Director: And welcome back. As promised we’re just gonna go ahead and jump right in to that Humanities Nebraska event “Weathering Uncertainty: Conversations about Climate in Nebraska.”
Martha Shulski, Humanities Nebraska Moderator: Welcome everybody. My microphone decided not to work right before. So, we’re weathering uncertainty here at the Lied Center. Welcome to all of you in person, as well as all of you joining online. We’re very happy to have you here.
Tonight’s program is presented by Humanities Nebraska with help from several important partners. I hope you noticed on the screen or, in the printed program that each of you picked up, the names of the people and organizations who helped make tonight possible. These “Weathering Uncertainty” conversations are part of a national initiative called Democracy and the Informed Citizen. It is funded by the Mellon Foundation and administered by the Federation of State Humanities Council.
You can learn more about Humanities Nebraska’s work in the program or by visiting their website, humanitiesnebraska.org. A few items to keep in mind is something that I remind my eight and 10- year-olds. That’s be kind. Keep it simple, stay objective, and be patient.
We have a superb lineup here this evening.
Mark McHargue – he’s the president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, since 2020. Has farms in central city area. He has a construction operation and a passion for agriculture policy and advocacy.
We have Dr. Hannah Birge. She’s a director of agriculture for the Nature Conservancy. [She] used to work here in Nebraska, locally, but has advanced in position to the global, nature Conservancy. She’s a UNL graduate like myself. She has a background in soils and water and agriculture and grasslands and ecosystems. Also an interest in Arctic mid-latitude connections, and her and I spent some time walking the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia, years ago, which seems like decades ago now.
We have Dr. Jesse Bell. He is the director of [the] Water, Climate, Health program at UNMC, hails from Northeast, Nebraska, and spent some time at the Centers for Disease Control. So we’re really excited to have this health perspective with us here on the panel tonight.
And Josh Moenning, mayor of Norfolk since 2016, [as a] small business owner spent some time in Nebraska legislature, as well as in DC. And we won’t hold that against you. He’s also [an] UNL alum.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Now I know that I am steadily running out of time, but I still have one or maybe two reminders for you.
Your first reminder is that ‘KZUM News’ is always open to any questions, concerns, suggestions, or even any story ideas that you might want to share with us. All you have to do is give us a call. We’re still at that (402) 474 – 5086 number and you can reach the newsroom specifically with extension line six. But of course, we also understand that not everyone is a phone person and I would empathize with that. So, if you would prefer, you can find our social media handles and our newsroom submission portal at kzum.org under our ‘Get Involved’ tab.
And while I’m still thinking about our website, don’t forget that all of our archives can be found at kzum.org or on our SoundCloud. If you happen to miss a show, don’t worry about it. You can always listen at your leisure and catch up on whatever you miss later.
And lastly, it is time for my weekly shout-out to Jack Rodenburg. Jack is the one who put together all of the original music that our news program uses. And because of him, you don’t have to listen to me talk for an hour straight, which also gives me a nice little water break. So thank you, Jack. We really appreciate it.
And there we go. We are officially out of time. Thank you again for listening to the news, instead of making the news. Have a lovely afternoon and hopefully you’ll tune in next week.
[Fades into the KZUM News program music, an original production of Jack Rodenburg for the program. Plays and then fades out again.]