Omaha Rally in Response to TX SB 8


On May 19, Texas governor Greg Abbott signed into law one of the strictest abortion measures in the nation, which bans abortions past six weeks of pregnancy. The bill went into effect on Sept. 1. The law prohibits abortions whenever an ultrasound detects a “fetal heartbeat,” which means cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of a heart. There are no exceptions to this bill, meaning any pregnancy that is the result of rape or incest are treated as any other pregnancy in the state.


For many, pregnancy isn’t detected until around the two month mark, which would be over the six week limit of this bill. If a person were to come to the decision to get an abortion once they find out, they would not be able to in Texas and most likely would have to leave the state to receive one. Even then, many other states have restrictions in place, limiting the conditions and time to get one. In Nebraska, those that seeking an abortion must receive counseling on the facts of abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure can be performed.


Since the announcement of this bill in late May, other state governors, including Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts, have been vocal in their agreement to Abbott’s bill. This comes after Nebraska Legislature put into act a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization, or 22 weeks into the pregnancy, and the ban of certain abortion methods in recent years. In a social media post responding to the bill, Ricketts applauds Texas for its “legal victory”.


“I am pleased to see the Texas law has taken effect, and we’ll be watching closely as we pull together our legislative plans with pro-life leaders here in Nebraska,” Ricketts said.

On October 2, supporters join together for the Rally for Reproductive Rights, raising signs with messages pertaining to the rally, waiting for the speakers to start talking. Photo taken by Kayla Doll.

On Oct. 2, nationwide rallies broke out in all 50 states in support of reproductive rights and women’s rights to their bodies. Omaha had their own rally take place outside of the Douglas County Courthouse on this past Saturday. Sponsors, including Planned Parenthood and ACLU of Nebraska, along with speakers ranging from healthcare providers to policymakers helped organize this event. Co-chair of the Omaha Women’s Day March, Brandi Bothe, helped coordinate the event in hope that it brings together the community.


“We hope that people gain that sense of belonging that you’re not alone. You’re not alone in the community and you’re not alone in your outrage for what’s going on,” Bothe said. “We [the organizers] hope that people take the tools that we’ve provided today and continue to make change the best way they know how, and that can be as simple as posting on social media, getting your friends and family involved, or it can be writing to your lawmakers.”


The event attracted hundreds of local supporters, bringing them in hope to show solidarity to the cause. Volunteer Samantha Nonnenmann wanted to help out with the event as soon as she saw what was happening in Texas and how local lawmakers were responding.


“I found out about what was happening in Texas via TikTok and then started doing my research and found out that Pete Ricketts was in support, and I was like, ‘oh no,’” Nonnenmann said. “I went immediately to the Omaha Women’s page and was like, ‘what are we doing, I want to be part of this,’ because somebody’s has got to tell him this is not okay. Hands off my body, hands off everybody’s bodies.”

On Oct. 2, Rally supporter Jen Hackett and her significant other dress in pirates at the Rally for Reproductive Rights. Photo taken by Kayla Doll.

It wasn’t just local residents attending the rally, but also local state senators and community leaders that were in attendance. Nebraska State Senator Tony Vargas was one of the senators present, showing his support to the cause. Sen. Vargas urged the importance of being informed on this current issue.


“I hope we get more people educated that there’s local and federal opportunities to hold the line and if there’s urgency around this, we should be listening to scientists and doctors,” Vargas states. “They’re (scientists and doctors) not asking for bans, they’re not asking for more restrictions, they’re not behind this. This is purely political and we should be listening to those that are directly affected.”


There was four speakers at the rally, one being League of Women Voters of the United States President Dr. Deborah Turner, who has worked in healthcare for over 40 years. She recalled a memory from the early 1970s, before Roe vs. Wade went into act, about a young mother that took a cocktail of chemicals in hopes to eliminate her pregnancy, as abortion was still not legalized.


“She had undergone an illegal abortion out of desperation. She had three young children at home,” Turner states. “Seeing her suffer, and then seeing her die because there was no access to safe abortion in her community, was devastating.”


Turner and all of the speakers emphasized the importance of continuing to fight for change, now more than ever. That’s due to the impending trail that will revisit Roe vs. Wade, a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that ruled that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restrictions, in December and it could be overturned.


“The fight is not over after today, it cannot be over after today. So the long term goal is to activate people, keep them vocal and keep them moving with the momentum to make real change and protect our reproductive rights,” Bothe said.