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Thousands rally for annual Walk for Life

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Thousands of Nebraskans braved freezing temperatures Saturday to attend the 49th annual Walk for Life organized by Nebraska Right to Life.

Local and state officials, including Gov. Jim Pillen, Sens. Deb Fischer and Pete Ricketts, and Reps. Don Bacon and Mike Flood, spoke at the event. They shared excitement over the overturning of Roe v. Wade last summer.

In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that abortion is not a constitutional right, leaving the legality of abortion to individual states to decide.

"Dobbs was a tremendous victory," Fischer said. "It was the result of hard work, heart and commitment to a noble movement."

The annual rally came just weeks after state Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston proposed a bill that would ban abortions in Nebraska after six weeks. In response, Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha has introduced two bills that would expand abortion access in the state.

"If it has a heartbeat, it's not going to be aborted in Nebraska," Albrecht told the crowd.

Participants marched from the Capitol to the Nebraska Union, where speaker Dr. John Bruchalski greeted them.

Bruchalski is an OB-GYN who once performed abortions, but now leads Tepeyac OB-GYN, one of the largest pro-life medical practices in the nation.

"It was your prayer, it was your witness, that helped me change my heart on performing abortions to converting to life-affirming medicine," Bruchalski told the crowd.

Bruchalski grew up in a Catholic home before graduating from the South Alabama College of Medicine. He spoke about how during his residency, he was attending church, and performing abortions during his on-call hours.

He told the story of how a fellow doctor told him to treat a case as two patients, instead of just one, after an unsuccessful abortion.

"I had to call in a neonatologist. An abortion, a baby, a fetus, ended up squeaking and crying in my hands."

The neonatologist explained to Bruchalski how he had treated the baby like something to be gotten rid of, not a person needing taken care of.

After that experience, Bruchalski says his eyes were opened, and that experience is what prompted his memoir "Two Patients: My Conversion from Abortion to Life-Affirming Medicine."

Bruchalski also called the younger members of the crowd to action.

"You are the future," he said. "All these young men and women in the high schools and the colleges, it's you."

Before his closing remarks, Bruchalski heralded how Nebraska was fighting against abortion and thanked the march participants.

"Your walk today mattered. Your presence today mattered."

A group of counterprotesters gathered outside the Nebraska Union.

Among them was Maghie Miller-Jenkins, who said she was offended that the Walk for Life rally took place a day after body camera footage was released of Tyre Nichols’ death at the hands of the Memphis Police.

"I don't like calling it pro-choice, because, when they hijack pro-life, I'm actually pro-lives, actual lives," Miller-Jenkins said. "I think it is horrifically disrespectful that they are out here the day after the video of Tyre Nichols, fighting for lives while we're dying in the streets."

Photos: Nebraska's 49th annual Walk for Life rally

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Thousands gathered in Lincoln on Saturday for the 49th annual Walk for Life rally.

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Sam Hoiberg's career game not enough as mistake-prone Nebraska falls to Maryland, 82-63

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Nebraska men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg likes to use a football term — “pick six” — to describe bad turnovers that lead to easy opponent baskets.

In their 82-63 loss at Maryland Saturday, the Huskers had their share of them, none uglier than one ending in Terrapin forward Donta Scott’s second-half alley-oop dunk. Maryland turned 14 NU giveaways into 20 points and dominated from the free throw line, making 24-of-26 from the charity stripe while Nebraska made 9-of-15.

That was more than enough to overcome a stunning, career performance from Hoiberg’s son, Sam, who made his first five shots and finished with 15 points, surpassing his season total. The 6-foot redshirt freshman walk-on got help from senior Derrick Walker — 16 points, eight rebounds — as the Huskers shot 53.3% from the floor.

For a third straight game, Nebraska’s defense didn’t fare so well without Juwan Gary and Emmanuel Bandoumel, who both had season-ending surgery last week. Maryland took apart NU’s trapping zone, hitting eight threes and drawing fouls. Five Terps scored in double figures, led by guard Jahmir Young’s 18.

Until a costly technical foul on guard CJ Wilcher, NU (10-12, 3-8 Big Ten) at least stayed within striking distance.

Walker quickly shook off struggles against Northwestern by scoring eight of the Huskers’ first 10 points right at the rim. A Keisei Tominaga deep three gave NU a 13-8 lead with 14:08 left before Maryland, fueled by Nebraska turnovers, rattled off 10 straight points.

That’s when Sam Hoiberg checked in, hit a corner three, a 15-foot pullup jumper, and two more corner threes — all from the left side of the court — to keep Nebraska competitive against a team that made all 13 of its free throws in the first half. Maryland led 40-30 at the break.

NU held Maryland scoreless for more than three minutes to start the second half, but an 11-3 Terrapin run, executed over 3:03, forced a Fred Hoiberg timeout. A final Nebraska surge cut the lead to 59-50 after Wilhelm Breidenbach hit a three with 9:06 left.

On the ensuing possession, Wilcher was whistled for a foul on Maryland’s baseline. He didn’t like the call, verbalized his feelings to an official, and was whistled for a technical. Young made two free throws, and Scott made three. The Terrapins led 64-50 and were not seriously challenged after that.

Nebraska will fly Saturday night to Champaign, Ill., where it’ll practice, eat and stay in a hotel for three days in preparation for a Tuesday night game against Illinois, which beat Wisconsin 61-51 on Saturday.

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