OMAHA — Nebraska’s attorney general will not defend a new state law requiring health screenings for women seeking abortions because there’s little chance the law will prevail in court, his spokeswoman said yesterday.
Attorney General Jon Bruning agreed to a permanent federal injunction against enforcement of the law, which faces a challenge from Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said his spokeswoman Shannon Kingery.
“It is evident from the judge’s ruling [to temporarily block the law] that LB594 will ultimately be found unconstitutional,’’ she said. “Losing this case would require Nebraska taxpayers to foot the bill for Planned Parenthood’s legal fee.
“We will not squander the state’s resources on a case that has very little probability of winning.’’
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed a lawsuit last month in US District Court in Nebraska over the law approved in the spring by state lawmakers. The group said the measure could be difficult to comply with and could require doctors to give women irrelevant information.
Jill June, president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said court documents were filed within minutes of Bruning’s announcement to make the injunction permanent. A federal judge must sign off on the agreement, though it wasn’t immediately known when that would be.
The law would require women wanting abortions to be screened by doctors or other health professionals to determine whether they had risk factors indicating they could have mental or physical problems after an abortion. If screening wasn’t performed or was performed inadequately, a woman with mental or physical problems resulting from an abortion could file a civil lawsuit. Doctors would not face criminal charges or lose their medical license.
The law was to take effect July 15, but US District Judge Laurie Smith Camp temporarily blocked it from taking effect.
State Senator Cap Dierks of Ewing, who had introduced the measure, said he’s disappointed with Bruning’s decision.
“I think it was a very important piece of legislation for women in our state,’’ he said. “Whatever we need to do to make it acceptable, we’ll do.’’