OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Tea Rohrberg was heading into her county’s treasurer’s office in Omaha, Nebraska, on Monday when she says she was approached by a man and asked if she wanted to sign a “pro-choice petition.” Because she believes access to abortion is a right all women should have, she readily signed.

But Rohrberg soon learned from a different volunteer that she had actually signed a petition being circulated by Protect Women and Children, which seeks to ask voters in November to codify Nebraska’s new 12-week abortion ban in the state constitution. She approached the man who she said had coerced her into signing the petition by calling it a “pro-choice” measure. She told him she wanted to cross her name off the petition. He told her he’d cross it off later, she said.

“I was like, ‘No, I just want my name off it.’ Then he said, ‘Well then just vote no later,’” she said.

What she did instead was head to the Omaha office of Protect Our Rights, which is seeking to enshrine abortion rights in the Nebraska Constitution, to file a notarized affidavit to have her name officially removed. She then signed the organization’s petition to protect abortion rights through fetal viability or at any time in pregnancy to protect the health of the woman.

Rohrberg is far from alone in being misled to sign a Nebraska abortion petition. The Nebraska Secretary of State’s office said that by late Friday, it had received 91 affidavits from voters seeking to have their names removed from an abortion petition.

The vast majority — 67 — came from those seeking to have their name removed from Protect Women and Children or other petitions seeking to ban abortions. Only seven had sought to remove their names from a petition to protect abortion rights.

Organizers with Protect Women and Children did not return emails seeking comment.

Both sides accuse the other of dirty tricks to gather the roughly 123,000 signatures needed before Wednesday’s deadline to turn them in.

“They are explicitly lying to voters,” Protect Our Rights campaign manager Allie Berry said of organizers seeking to solidify Nebraska’s 12-week abortion ban. “They’re using really deceptive tactics to get people to sign.”

Conversely, Nebraska Right to Life Executive Director Sandy Danek said the group has heard from anti-abortion allies that abortion rights petition circulators have tried duping people into signing.

Nebraska is among at least seven states where initiatives aimed at codifying abortion and reproductive rights are proposed for the November ballot, the latest sign of the deep divisions created by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision two years ago to end a constitutional right to abortion.

In the wake of that ruling, Republicans who dominate Nebraska’s state government sought to immediately issue abortion restrictions, including a total abortion ban that failed in 2022. Last year, another bill failed that would have outlawed abortions at around six weeks of pregnancy — before most women know they’re pregnant.

Last year, lawmakers settled for a 12-week ban with exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother.

Abortion rights advocates in the state have been emboldened by voter initiatives elsewhere that have either enshrined abortion rights or turned back attempts to restrict it.

Nearly 6 in 10 Nebraska voters in the 2022 midterm elections said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and about 8 in 10 said the state should allow abortion if the mother’s health is seriously endangered by the pregnancy, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of the electorate. Slightly less than half said Nebraska should allow a legal abortion if the woman does not want to be pregnant for any reason.

Anti-abortion advocates have offered at least three petition efforts this year, including an effort seeking to ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy by recognizing embryos as people. It’s unlikely to garner the number of signatures needed to make the November ballot.

The petition to codify a 12-week abortion ban into the state constitution is being bankrolled almost exclusively by Nebraska multimillionaires, including Republican U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts — one of the wealthiest members of the Senate — who has donated $1 million of his own money of the $2 million raised.

The Nebraska Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the Roman Catholic Church in Nebraska, has for months blanketed the state with presentations to push support for the 12-week ban petition. Marion Miner with the conference said in a June 6 presentation that anti-abortion groups would prefer a total ban that makes no exceptions for rape and incest but acknowledged they’re unlikely to get public support.

“It’s been tried in other states in recent years, and it’s not been competitive even in, you know, very pro-life states,” he said.

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