Reproductive Freedom issue image

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Hilgers

Location: Nebraska
Court Type: Nebraska Supreme Court
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: May 31, 2023

What's at Stake

In May 2023, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Nebraska filed a lawsuit on behalf of Nebraska abortion providers and their patients challenging a state law that bans physicians from providing abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy and that, as of October 2023, will restrict health care available to trans youth. The ACLU has asked a state court in Nebraska to enter an emergency order blocking the law’s enforcement.

In May 2023, the Nebraska Legislature passed Legislative Bill (“L.B.”) 574. The new law combines two separate sets of harmful provisions: one banning abortion starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy, and another restricting health care for trans youth. Senators forced these provisions together only after they stalled in the Legislature when considered as separate bills. The abortion ban took immediate effect, and the restrictions on health care for trans youth are slated to apply on October 1, 2023.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Dr. Sarah Traxler, who are abortion providers in Nebraska, sued state officials responsible for enforcing L.B. 574 to protect their constitutional rights and the rights of their patients. They are represented by attorneys with the ACLU of Nebraska and the ACLU’s State Supreme Court Initiative.

The lawsuit argues that L.B. 574 violates the Nebraska Constitution’s single-subject requirement, and that the entire law is therefore void. The single-subject rule, which provides that “[n]o bill shall contain more than one subject,” serves important purposes. It prevents logrolling, whereby measures that cannot gain enactment as individual bills are forced together into a compound bill that secures passage. The single-subject rule also promotes transparency to the public because when a bill has just one subject, no lawmaker can credibly claim that a vote for (or against) that bill was meant to support (or oppose) only part of it.

The plaintiffs’ request for an emergency order blocking enforcement of the law is pending in a state trial court in Nebraska.

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