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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 21, 1976)
Wednesday, January 21, 1976
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NCLU director questions constitutionality of state's law
Editor's note: Tomorrow is th third
the US. Supreme Court's decision which made elective
abortions legal. While the law provides protection against
prosecution for those who decide to have an abortion,
it does not assure equal accessibility to the medical pro
cedure for afl. In this issue of Third Dimension, we have
tried to answer the question "How available are abortions
Analysis by Theresa Foreman
After the Jan. 22, 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision
making voluntary termination of pregnancy legal,
the Nebraska Legislature grudgingly followed suit that
year and revised its 1943 abortion statute, which allowed
abortion only to preserve the life or health of the mother.
The new abortion law, LB286, still is on the books and
the attitudes of several 1973 legislators is evident in its
LB286 assures Nebraskans that the act 'Is in no way
to be construed as implementing, condoning or approving
abortions at-any stage of unborn development." In fact,
the law states that the Legislature "expressly deplores the
destruction of the unborn human lives which has and will
occur in Nebraska as a consequence of the Supreme
Court's decision on abortion."
The bill accuses the Supreme Court of intruding upon
the state's legislative rights.
Nebraska law not only does not comply with the
spirit of the Supreme Court decision, that of a woman's
right to control her own body, it also is questionable
whether the statute complies with the letter of the higher
law. Nebraska requires parental consent before giving a
minor an abortion and requires a spouse's consent before
a married woman can have an abortion.
"We're sure these provisions are unconstitutional,"
said Barbara Gaither, executive director of the Nebraska
Civil Liberties Union (NCLU).
The NCLU is willing to test several provisions of
LB286 in court, she said, but can only do so if a patient
or doctor files a complaint with them. She said many
persons are reluctant to do so because they expect a
certain amount of hassle when dealing with abortions
or don't want to prolong what might have been -an
Perhaps part of the reason these clauses in the 1973
law still are on the books is because abortions may be
obtained in Nebraska upon demand. That is, if you don't
mind going the clinic route, which means a trip to one of
Nebraska s two abortion clinics m Omaha. These clinics
are the Ladies Center and Women's Services.
Gaither said that women wanting abortions who live
out-state usually go to Denver or some other nearby
city partly because they are closer, preferred over small
town hospitals and usually less expensive than hospitals.
A 1974 survey :f Nebraska hospital administrators
indicates that most ct't-state hospital directors did not
know the general provisions of Nebraska's new abortion
law because they never had reason to, Gaither said.
The Supreme Court decision did not require that
hospitals -provide personnel or facilities for the abortions
they legalized. Thus, in Nebraska, medical institutions and
medical personnel can refuse to perform abortions on
moral or religious grounds.
. Not all states comply
This makes it difficult for some people in one-hospital
towns to receive abortion on demand, Gaither said
Nebraska is not unique because several states have
abortion laws not completely in compliance with the
federal statute, she added.
The Supreme Court has refused to hear some cases
involving alleged discriminatory state abortion laws.
Gaither said she was not optimistic about possible revision
of tneabortion legislation this year.
It's taken a lot of energy just to maintain the current
abortion laws let alone making any progress toward what
she called fairer laws, she said. Gaither was referring
to work involved in counteracting the lobbying and legis
lation introduced by pro-life, anti-abortion groups.
Abortion clinics offer counsel, therapy
By Liz Crumley
Counseling, examination and abortions are available to
any woman who wants a legal abortion in Nebraska. But
their cost and availability varies.
Planned Parenthood of Lincoln offers counseling and
examination upon request.
According to Peggy Bergstrasser, Planned Parenthood
counselor, abortion as an alternative to pregnancy is
suggested only by the woman herself.
If a woman decides on abortion, she said, Planned
Parenthood refers her to places offering them. It also
tells her of available types and costs of abortions,
Planned Parenthood refers women to Womens Services
and The Ladies Center Clinics, both of Omaha, and to
two Lincoln doctors.
Usually appointments can be scheduled a few days
The University Health Center also refers women to
the two Omaha clinics and one Lincoln doctor. It has
about the same counseling and referral procedures as
Planned Parenthood, but can help only university
students, according to Sheryl Bellinger, health center
community health nurse.
Dr. Kenneth Hubble, health center director, said
guidelines within the center limit its activities to students
If a woman is five-to-seven-weeks pregnant, she is
refered to the Lincoln doctor, Bellinger said. The doctor
said he did not want to be identified because he would
consider it advertising. He said he performs a simple
abortion procedure in his office at a total cost of about
The doctor said he also performs suction aspiration
abortions in a Lincoln hospital for pregnancies that are
between the seventh and twelfth week. He said average
cost is about $350 for the suction aspiration, which
includes hospital charges and doctor's fees.
Clinics cost less
The Ladies Center and Womens Services clinics also
perform suction aspiration abortions. The cost is consider
ably less because the procedure is done in the clinic in
one day, according to officials at the two clinics.
The Ladies Center charges $185 for a suction
aspiration and Womens Services charges $250. Womens
Services also provides the simpler, earlier abortions for
All fees include a three-week, post-abortion checkup.
Linca Koch, director of The Ladies Center, described
the nearly four-hour process a woman goes through to
have an abortion at the Ladies Center.
When the woman arrives, Koch said, she goes through
patient interviews to determine her state of mind. Most
are nervous about the medical procedure, she said.
Then they go to the laboratory for blood and
pregnancy tests and return to the waiting room unitl
During this session, the abortion procedure is describ
ed and the women's feelings usually are ventilated, she
said. Their medical history is taken and birth control
counseling is offered.
The abortion then is performed and the woman is
taken to the recovery room for about an hour where her
vital signs are monitored every 15 minutes.
Hospitals take serious patients
If medical problems develop, arrangements have been
made previously with a hospital, which will accept the
clinic's patient, Koch said.
Womens Services has about the same procedures.
State law requires parental consent for abortions for
women under age 19. However, according to Diane
Kimmons, office manager of Womens Services, proof of
age is not required unless the patient looks very young..
Birthright also offers abortion counseling. However,
they try to give women an alternative route to abortion,
according to director Mary Pratt. If a woman decides to
have an abortion, Birthright discontinues counseling and
will not refer the girl to anyone who will perform the
. f -j! r-n. riinio in Omaha, the abortion aervice bedns with a one-hour
counseling session. A forty-five minute itay in the recovery room completes uie pro
cedure. The counseling and recovery are designed for groups, according to Linda Koch,
director, because other women provide the best source of therapy and moral support tor
the abortion patient
Photos by 6tv Bownor
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