Bob Krist is not a sneaky senator. Really. He’s a nice guy; thoughtful, contemplative, ex-Air Force pilot, up-front dude. So when he introduced LB51, he probably meant well. But when the uterus police got wind of LB51, they saw a sneaky opportunity to further police wimmens’ insides and boy, they jumped on it.
LB51 requires that a health clinic, in order to be licensed as such, has to have a “patient transfer agreement” with a local hospital. Sounds okay. If something goes wrong at the health clinic and a patient needs to transfer to the local hospital, it’s a sensible idea to have an advance agreement to make the transfer as easy as possible for the patient.
A representative from the Nebraska Hospital Association testified in support of the bill, and so did somebody from Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital; two fine, respected organizations. Here comes a red flag: Nebraska Family Council also testified in support.
Nebraska Family Council is another fine, respected organization; but it is very, very, very pro uterus-police. Why, pray tell, and I do mean, pray, would the Nebraska Family Council folks take time out of their busy schedule to testify in support of a seemingly non-controversial bill?
Because Planned Parenthood, a licensed health clinic, would be required to have such a patient transfer agreement.
The uterus police do not like this nationwide service that provides health care to mainly low-income women and men. Planned Parenthood provides testing for sexually transmitted diseases; they help women safely leave abusive relationships; they provide sexual health information to men; they offer medically-accurate information on many different methods of contraception (including the uterus-police favorite: none); and on occasion, they provide abortion services. That last one chaps the hide of the uterus police, and they will do anything to destroy the vast health benefits Planned Parenthood provides to millions of Americans every year to get at that one stickler.
On the other hand, “crisis pregnancy centers,” since they are not licensed health clinics in Nebraska, would not be required to have a patient transfer agreement under LB51.
To add to the mix, just one day before LB51 had a hearing in the Health and Human Services Committee, no less than seven pro uterus-police senators signed onto the bill. If you haven’t connected the dots by now, go fetch a magic marker. I’ll wait.
Senator Tanya Cook, a very astute, intelligent and measured senator and a member of the HHS Committee, connected the dots right away. She was the lone “no” vote to move the bill out of committee. Senator Kathy Campbell was getting suspicious of the dots and abstained from voting.
Senator Danielle Conrad is another astute, intelligent and measured senator who knows how to go toe-to-toe with sneaky people. She filed an amendment to LB51 requiring that a “pregnancy crisis center” shall be required to have one of those patient transfer agreements. She filed another amendment that exempts non-profit family planning clinics (that would be Planned Parenthood) from the patient transfer agreements. These two amendments were sort of a reverse take-down, for all of you wrestling fans out there.
Not done yet, Senator Conrad filed seventeen more amendments, each one dealing separately with various providers like nursing facilities, respite care, adult day services, assisted living facilities… and each one requiring the providers must have one of those patient transfer agreements. Her amendments could take hours and hours, each and every one, to debate and decide. A bill that the sneaky people thought they could slip through and cackle about later is now possibly going to grind up days and days of time out in the open, where everybody will be able to see where the dots are leading.
Ernie Chambers would be proud.
Meanwhile, Senator Cook has filed a motion to return the bill to the HHS Committee for further discussion. By now, even other committee members who originally voted the bill to the floor have connected the dots, and they want the bill back.
Oh, you sneaky, sneaky uterus police. You almost pulled a fast one. But you were foiled by your trail of red flags and big giant dots.
Score for this one: Savvy state senators, 2.5.* Sneaky people, 0.
*(Senator Campbell gets a half-point for being suspicious.)
Update on March 7: Senator Krist filed a motion today to kill his own bill. I don’t think he is very happy with the uterus police for using him in a sneaky attempt to further their agenda. Hats off to Senators Krist, Conrad, Cook and Campbell.