Nebraska legislature clears balconies amid protests over abortion measure: report
KETV NewsWatch 7 / screengrab

Security cleared the balconies of the Nebraska Legislature on Friday amid protests over a controversial measure targeting abortions and gender-affirming care for children, ABC News’ Omaha affiliate KETV reports.

Crowds packed the Nebraska chamber to protest LB574, causing disruptions that delayed debate on the measure that passed later in the day. The so-called Let Them Grow Act bans abortion at 12 weeks and gender-affirming care for minors. The measure was a compromise after the bill’s authors first sought a six-week ban.

Video from the legislature shows protesters interrupting State Sen. Kathleen Kauth, one of the bill's authors, as she touted the merits of the divisive measure, when a voice is heard on the public address system calling for the balconies to be cleared.

Kauth said the measure wasn’t motivated by hate but rather aimed to protect transgender youth, The Washington Post reports.

“This bill is and always has been about protecting children. It does not discriminate,” Kauth said, arguing that the measure aims to delay “irreversible, experimental medications and surgeries.”

Sen. Tom Briese, who also backed the measure, called it a “reasonable” compromise.

“This bill is simply about protecting innocent life,” he said.

Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh (D), who opposed the measure, expressed dismay.

“This place is morally bankrupt,” Cavanaugh said. “You are playing political games with the lives of children and parents.”

Gov. Jim Pillen (R), who said he will sign the bill, issued a statement in support of the measure.

“All children deserve a chance to grow and live happy, fruitful lives. This includes pre-born boys and girls, and it includes children struggling with their gender identity," Pillen’s statement said.

"These kids deserve the opportunity to grow and explore who they are and want to be, and they can do so without making irreversible decisions.”

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