At this time, the only clinic in Nebraska performing abortions up to 20 weeks is in Bellevue – an Omaha suburb on the far eastern border of the state. But if this grassroots initiative gains enough momentum, it could be forced to shut down. The initiative is part of a push to ban abortion within city limits.
“This is a way that local citizens can say, ‘you know what, the Supreme Court gave us this right back to decide what’s okay for our community,’” Bellevue resident Judith Mansisidor said. “And we do not think that the loss of children in the womb is okay for our community.”
Mansisidor helped file a request to declare Bellevue a “sanctuary for the unborn.” Because Nebraska allows abortion up until the 20-week mark, this group is bringing the battle over abortion from the state to local level.
If she and the other organizers can collect 7,400 signatures from their fellow residents, the proposal will move forward.
“The city does not want to be known for the death and loss of life, for the death and loss of sons and daughters,” Mansisidor said.
In Nebraska, five such ordinances passed in the November elections, but a ban in the city of Bellevue would have a more significant impact.
“The real difference is that this is where the abortions are happening,” Nebraskans Embracing Life Executive Director David Zebolsky said. “So it’s not just a Bellevue, Nebraska problem. It’s a statewide problem. But this abortion mill, because it’s so close to the interstate, is really a destination for people from other states, for misguided mothers from other states, to make this a destination.”
The effort to pass abortion bans at the local level is part of a nationwide initiative that has succeeded in Texas, New Mexico, Ohio and Iowa.
“We believe that this is a tried and true method,” Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn founder Mark Dickson said. “It worked in Lubbock, and we believe you know, it worked for Texas, we believe it’ll work for Bellevue, Nebraska.”
While the push in Bellevue is to prohibit abortion, local initiatives can also be used to establish and maintain abortion access.
Just this month, pro-choice Texans submitted a petition, with more than 35,000 signatures, to prevent police from enforcing the state’s abortion ban in San Antonio.
SHANNON LONGWORTH: AT THIS MOMENT, THE ONLY CLINIC IN NEBRASKA PERFORMING ABORTIONS UP TO 20 WEEKS IS IN BELLEVUE– AN OMAHA SUBURB ON THE FAR EASTERN BORDER OF THE STATE. BUT IF THIS GRASSROOTS INITIATIVE GAINS ENOUGH MOMENTUM, IT COULD BE FORCED TO SHUT DOWN.
IT’S PART OF A PUSH TO BAN ABORTION WITHIN CITY LIMITS.
JUDITH MANSISIDOR: “THIS IS A WAY THAT LOCAL CITIZENS CAN SAY, ‘YOU KNOW WHAT, THE SUPREME COURT GAVE US THIS RIGHT BACK TO DECIDE WHAT’S OKAY FOR OUR COMMUNITY.’ AND WE DO NOT THINK THAT THE LOSS OF CHILDREN IN THE WOMB IS OKAY FOR OUR COMMUNITY.”
LONGWORTH: JUDITH MANSISIDOR HELPED FILE A REQUEST TO DECLARE BELLEVUE A “SANCTUARY FOR THE UNBORN.”
BECAUSE NEBRASKA ALLOWS ABORTION UP UNTIL THE 20-WEEK MARK, THIS GROUP IS BRINGING THE BATTLE OVER ABORTION FROM THE STATE TO LOCAL LEVEL.
IF SHE AND THE OTHER ORGANIZERS CAN COLLECT 7,400 SIGNATURES FROM THEIR FELLOW RESIDENTS, THE PROPOSAL WILL MOVE FORWARD.
MANSISIDOR: “THE CITY DOES NOT WANT TO BE KNOWN FOR THE DEATH AND LOSS OF LIFE FOR THE DEATH AND LOSS OF SONS AND DAUGHTERS.”
LONGWORTH: IN NEBRASKA, FIVE SUCH ORDINANCES PASSED IN THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS.
BUT A BAN IN THE CITY OF BELLEVUE WOULD HAVE A MORE SIGNIFICANT IMPACT.
MANSISIDOR: “BELLEVUE IS THE ONLY ONE THAT ALREADY CONTAINS AN ABORTIONIST. SO IT WOULD MAKE HIM ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO LEAVE.”
DAVID ZEBOLSKY: “THE REAL DIFFERENCE IS THAT THIS IS WHERE THE ABORTIONS ARE HAPPENING. SO IT’S NOT JUST A BELLEVUE, NEBRASKA PROBLEM. IT’S A STATEWIDE PROBLEM. BUT THIS ABORTION MILL, BECAUSE IT’S SO CLOSE TO THE INTERSTATE, IS REALLY A DESTINATION FOR PEOPLE FROM OTHER STATES, FOR MISGUIDED MOTHERS FROM OTHER STATES, TO MAKE THIS A DESTINATION.”
LONGWORTH: THE EFFORT TO PASS ABORTION BANS AT THE LOCAL LEVEL IS PART OF A NATIONWIDE INITIATIVE THAT’S SUCCEEDED IN TEXAS, NEW MEXICO, OHIO, AND IOWA.
DICKSON: “WE BELIEVE THAT THIS IS A TRIED AND TRUE METHOD. IT WORKED IN LUBBOCK, AND WE BELIEVE YOU KNOW, IT WORKED FOR TEXAS, WE BELIEVE IT’LL WORK FOR BELLEVUE, NEBRASKA.”
LONGWORTH: WHILE THE PUSH IN BELLEVUE IS TO PROHIBIT ABORTION…
LOCAL INITIATIVES CAN ALSO BE USED TO ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN ABORTION ACCESS.
JUST THIS MONTH, PRO-CHOICE TEXANS SUBMITTED A PETITION, WITH MORE THAN 35,000 SIGNATURES, TO PREVENT POLICE FROM ENFORCING THE STATE’S ABORTION BAN IN SAN ANTONIO.
AS FOR BELLEVUE, MANSISIDOR WON’T DISCLOSE HOW MANY SIGNATURES SHE HAS SO FAR. IF SHE COLLECTS ENOUGH, THE PETITION WILL GO TO THE CITY COUNCIL FOR A VOTE.
IF IT DOESN’T PASS, THE DECISION WILL GO TO THE PEOPLE IN A SPECIAL ELECTION.