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Nebraska is the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family. One of the things that sets apart Nebraska as the Good Life is the state’s generations-long commitment to pro-life values. Our pro-life values evidence themselves in many ways. Hundreds of Nebraskans volunteer at crisis pregnancy centers every year, helping provide crucial support for expecting mothers. As you drive Nebraska’s highways and byways, it is common to see “Choose Life” or “Abortion stops a beating heart” signs along the road. Every year, thousands of Nebraskans turn out for the Walk for Life and Life Chain events across the state.

This commitment to pro-life values has made Nebraska a pro-life state and leader in shaping pro-life public policy. Over the past few years, we have worked at the state level to put in place new protections for unborn life and to launch new initiatives that promote the dignity of human life at all stages.

Earlier this year, the Legislature approved one of the most significant pro-life initiatives in years. Title X is a federal program that provides family planning resources to state governments or other recipients for local distribution. This year, I worked with Senators on new budget language to ensure the Title X program, which is funded by taxpayer dollars, does not subsidize abortion services. Previously, clinics in Nebraska that referred for, directively counseled for, or performed abortions in Nebraska were receiving Title X federal funding. New action by Congress and the Trump Administration has given the states more latitude in how Title X funding is distributed. The budget I signed this year maintains Title X funding and directs the funds to clinics that do not provide abortions or abortion services. My budget recommendations in the coming years will continue to reflect Nebraska’s pro-life values.

Last year, the Legislature and I worked together to create “Choose Life” license plates as an optional license plate for Nebraska’s drivers. These plates help highlight the state’s pro-life values. If you would like more information about requesting plates for your car, you can visit www.dmv.nebraska.gov.

Over the past two years, I have worked with State Senator Joni Albrecht of Thurston on two pro-life bills. Last year, Senator Albrecht brought the Compassion and Care for Medically Challenging Pregnancies Act. This act allows physicians who diagnose unborn children with a fetal anomaly to provide the parents with information pertaining to perinatal hospice care. This helps parents understand resources that are available when their child is given a serious medical diagnosis during the early stages of a pregnancy. Senator Albrecht brought a second bill this year, LB1040, to create commemorative certificates for mothers who miscarry an unborn baby prior to 20 weeks of gestation. The state has already been providing similar certificates for babies who pass away later in the pregnancy. This new certificate recognizes the dignity of human life at its earliest stages. For more information about both these certificates, you can visit www.dhhs.ne.gov.

Most recently, my team has worked with Erin Konecky, a mom from Lincoln, to help recognize babies who pass away shortly after birth. The State of Nebraska has provided congratulations to parents on the birth of their child for years. After losing her baby Spencer shortly after birth, Erin had received one of these cards. As an alternative, Erin suggested that the Governor’s Office could provide condolence cards to families whose babies pass away. Now, my office, Erin, and No Footprint Too Small, a non-profit working with families who have lost babies, have teamed up to send condolence cards to these families. Thanks to Erin and her proactive work, we are now able to recognize the life and dignity of Nebraska babies, no matter how short their time on earth may be.

These initiatives are each a small, positive step forward, but there is more we can do. Next year, the Walk for Life will be held at the State Capitol on January 26, 2019 at 10:00am. I hope you can join us as we celebrate the gift of human life and support the work pro-life leaders are doing in Nebraska. There are still many areas for improvement, and this event helps build support for the work pro-life State Senators are doing in the Legislature. For more information about the Walk for Life, you can visit www.nebraskarighttolife.org. If you have questions about any of the pro-life initiatives we have been working on or questions about anything else, I hope you will write me at pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or call 402-471-2244. Working together, we can continue to build a culture that values the dignity of human life in Nebraska.

Pete Ricketts is the governor of Nebraska.

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