The state debate over abortion got hotter Monday afternoon, when Gov. Pete Ricketts proposed new restrictions on federal money for family planning.
Abortion is the topic of opposing views on specialty license plates in Nebraska.
Ricketts wants to revise the way federal healthcare funds are distributed, to prevent the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions.
Ricketts announced the proposal around 4:45 p.m. Monday.
Within 90 minutes, Planned Parenthood criticized the proposal.
Ricketts said no health clinics should receive federal funds unless they are truly separate and independent of any entity that performs abortions. That will be part of his budget proposal.
Federal law already stipulates that federal funds for family planning cannot be used for abortions, but critics say it is hard to track the money and be sure.
Ricketts noted healthcare providers who perform abortions receive federal money, passed through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
But Planned Parenthood of the Heartland said Ricketts wants to cut their organization out of Nebraska’s Title X program.
“The governor’s remarks are a blatant attack on Planned Parenthood and are part of an extreme agenda to completely dismantle reproductive health care access,” spokeswoman Becca Lee said.
Lee said Nebraska’s Title X program reduces unintended pregnancies. The money provides access to birth control, STD testing and treatment, as well as cancer screenings, she said.
Ricketts said the proposal is allowed under H.J. Res. 43, which President Donald Trump signed last year, allowing states more latitude in the distribution of Title X funding.
Ricketts will address the Legislature on Wednesday morning.
The legislature is currently getting organized. The only bill on the floor for debate so far is a bill to lift the helmet requirement for motorcyclists if they wear eye protection.
Lee said it is ironic that the Legislature is on the verge of allowing people to make more decisions about their bodies when it comes to riding motorcycles, but not reproduction.