A Nebraska Republican state senator argued Wednesday for a six-week abortion ban by claiming there are too many foreigners living in the state, invoking a racist conspiracy theory.
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion is allowed in Nebraska up to 21 weeks and six days of pregnancy. But on Wednesday, the Senate began debating a bill that would ban abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant.
Senator Steve Erdman decided that the best argument in favor of the ban was the “great replacement theory,” which the Southern Poverty Law Center defines as a “racist conspiracy narrative [that] falsely asserts there is an active, ongoing, and covert effort to replace white populations in current white-majority countries.”
“Our state population has not grown except by those foreigners who have moved here or refugees who have been placed here,” Erdman told the chamber.
Erdman also said that all of the aborted fetuses “could be working and filling some of those positions that we have vacancies.”
Erdman’s argument delivers a nice one-two punch of racism and misogyny. First, he thinks that abortions should be banned to force more white people to have babies. But it’s actually people of color who are hardest hit by abortion restrictions. Not all states report the racial and ethnic data of people who get abortions, but those that do found a disproportionately high number of people of color seek the procedure.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2020, in 29 states and Washington, D.C., 39.2 percent of people who got an abortion were Black. Hispanic people made up 21.1 percent of people who got an abortion, and other nonwhite ethnicities made up 7 percent.
What’s more, if Erdman is actually worried about increasing the labor force, he definitely shouldn’t be banning abortions. Abortion gives people better control over their own lives and allows them more opportunities to join the workforce and move upward economically. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned the Senate Banking Committee in May last year, a month before the Dobbs ruling, that “eliminating the right of women to make decisions about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy and would set women back decades.”
Six-week abortion bans are being considered across the country, including in Florida, which just passed such a bill on Thursday by a vote of 70-40, mainly along party lines. It now goes to Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law.
This post has been updated.