Thursday, April 18, 2024
Nebraska lawmakers push for AG's reproductive health clarification.

Nebraska lawmakers push for AG’s reproductive health clarification.

Nebraska Lawmakers Urge Attorney General to Clarify Stance on Reproductive Health Privacy

Nine state lawmakers in Nebraska have written a letter to Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers, requesting clarification on his stance regarding reproductive health privacy and medical autonomy. The lawmakers express their concerns about the state’s history of prosecuting women and healthcare providers for pregnancy outcomes and question the role of law enforcement and prosecutors in investigating and charging individuals for reproductive care.

Specific Questions for Attorney General Hilgers

The senators pose several questions to Attorney General Hilgers, seeking to understand his intentions and motives. They ask why it is important to have access to people’s medical records from other states and inquire about his intentions to prosecute individuals who receive or aid others in seeking reproductive care in states where it is legal. They request a clear explanation if it is not his intention to prosecute and question the necessity of accessing this information without due process.

Attorney General’s Response

A spokesperson for the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office confirms that Hilgers has received the letter and will respond after reviewing it. They refer to a previous statement from the office which asserts that Hilgers’ opposition to the federal rule change is motivated by misleading rhetoric. The statement argues that the proposed rule could hinder law enforcement efforts to hold bad actors accountable and protect sexual predators, individuals engaged in illegal distribution of abortion pills, and those giving harmful advice regarding self-administered or unsafe abortion techniques.

Previous Efforts to Expand Privacy

Last month, Hilgers and several other state attorneys general encouraged the US Department of Health and Human Services to drop a proposal that would expand reproductive health privacy under HIPAA’s Privacy Rule. They accused the Biden administration of promoting a false narrative and attempting to regain control over abortion. The proposed modification would restrict the use and disclosure of protected health information in criminal, civil, or administrative investigations against lawful providers of care across state lines.

Recent Prosecution Case

The letter from the lawmakers references a recent prosecution case in Norfolk involving a mother and daughter. The daughter, Celeste Burgess, was sentenced to 90 days in jail and probation for burning and burying a fetus she had aborted in her third trimester with the help of her mother. Jessica Burgess, the mother, was responsible for obtaining and providing the abortion pills. Some critics argue that the prosecution of this case sets a precedent for further prosecutions related to abortion care.

Lawmakers’ Request for Immunity

The lawmakers express their concerns about potential criminal prosecutions and ask Attorney General Hilgers to support legislation that would provide criminal and civil immunity for pregnancy outcomes. They refer to State Sen. Jen Day’s LB 391 bill, which aims to offer such immunity. The lawmakers urge Hilgers to engage in passing this legislation and mitigate the chilling effect that their advocacy and the advocacy of other politicians has had on individuals seeking healthcare.

Overall, the lawmakers are seeking clarity and assurance regarding reproductive health privacy and medical autonomy from Attorney General Hilgers. They emphasize the importance of protecting individuals seeking reproductive care and aim to address concerns about potential prosecutions for pregnancy outcomes.


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