LINCOLN–(KFOR Apr. 13)–The bill that would ban abortions in Nebraska before many women know they’re pregnant has cleared the first hurdle in the Legislature.

The bill, LB 626, which would outlaw abortions if an ultrasound detects embryonic cardiac activity that usually happens after six weeks of gestation, advanced Wednesday evening with the exact 33 votes needed.   All 32 Republican lawmakers and one Democrat (Omaha Senator Mike McDonnell) voted to advance the bill from the first round of debate.

Bill sponsor and Thurston Senator Joni Albrecht on Wednesday said there would be exceptions “in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.”

Abortion rights advocates say the bill is effectively an outright ban and other opponents argue it’s putting women and doctors in Nebraska at risk.

“Government should not shame them,” Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad said on floor debate on Wednesday afternoon.  “It should not interfere in the doctor/patient relationship and it should not criminalize women and doctors.”

Once debate starts in the second round, Ralston Senator Merv Riepe plans to offer an amendment that would shift LB 626 from a ban when cardiac activity is detected to a ban at 12 weeks.