I recently had a Nebraskan e-mail my office asking why the Unicameral adjourns every day at noon instead of staying in session through the entire day.
While I appreciate their frustration at the lack of progress being made on the floor, we adjourn at noon or 1:00 p.m. in order to hold committee hearings every afternoon at 1:30 p.m. These are important opportunities for Senators to take a close look at legislation and to get feedback not only from the introducer, but from Nebraskans who take the time to travel to Lincoln to testify in favor or opposition to a particular piece of legislation.
On Friday, February 10, my bill, LB 506 – the Compassion and Care for Medically Challenging Pregnancies Act – was heard by the Health and Human Services Committee. While it may seem like a small bill, it will mean a great deal for the families dealing with a devastating, life changing ordeal.
The purpose of LB 506 is to raise awareness of perinatal hospice care and provide readily available information to help women and their families through one of life’s most difficult stages.
As prenatal testing becomes increasingly routine and diagnostic methods have improved significantly over the last few decades, more lethal fetal anomalies such as anencephaly, sever heart defects and others are being detected. Just as the prevalence of prenatal diagnosis increase, so should the information available to parents.
Perinatal hospice and palliative care are innovative and compassionate models of support for families who find out a pregnancy has a life-limiting condition. This care begins at diagnosis and continues through the baby’s birth and death. Perinatal hospice is not a place, but it is a model of care and support that is incorporated into pregnancy and birth care.
When given a serious medical diagnosis, parents are sometimes given minimal options. Unfortunately, this may mean families are not aware of the compassionate care available to them through perinatal hospice services. Many parents faced with this horrible situation find themselves adrift without a life raft and having to find out for themselves what resources are available.
My bill asks the Department of Health and Human Services to host on their website information about perinatal hospice care and organizations which specifically specialize in and offer this care that medical professionals may share with these parents.
Over the last few months I have had wonderful, eye-opening and emotional conversations with experts, medical professionals, and families – and I want to thank them for the input as we put this legislation together.
In the most devastating and difficult circumstances, women and families deserve to know about the exceptional care and support they can receive for themselves and their child.
Friday was an emotional day, and I appreciated each and every “Warrior Mom” who testified in favor of my bill.
Shawna Hoffman, cofounder of HEALing Embrace in Omaha and the mother of a son who died in childbirth, shared with the committee her experience and her support for LB 506. She is one of the bravest women I have ever met, and her story touched us all. Now, we will wait to see if the Health and Human Services Committee votes to send the bill to the floor.