Groups launch bid to protect abortion under Nevada constitution

The Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom coalition seeks to cement in the state constitution “the right to abortion, birth control, prenatal, birth, and postpartum care, tubal ligation, vasectomy, and infertility care.” (Photo via Shutterstock)

By Isabel Soisson

September 14, 2023

Reproductive freedom could soon be guaranteed under the Nevada state constitution, thanks to a new effort from a group of reproductive rights advocates.

On Thursday, a coalition including Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada filed a petition with the secretary of state’s office to secure a ballot question in 2024 that would give voters the chance to enshrine abortion protections in the state’s constitution.

The Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom coalition seeks to cement in the state constitution “the right to abortion, birth control, prenatal, birth, and postpartum care, tubal ligation, vasectomy, and infertility care.”

In order for their proposed question to qualify for the ballot in 2024, the groups need to collect 103,000 signatures from registered voters by June 26, 2024. If the coalition accomplishes this, the question will need to pass with a simple majority of the vote in Nov. 2024 in order for it to appear again on the 2026 ballot; a second passage is required to amend the state constitution.

The proposed language of the amendment says the state “may not penalize, prosecute, or take adverse action against any individual based on the outcome of a pregnancy of the individual, or against any licensed health care provider who acts consistent with the applicable scope and practice of providing reproductive health care services to an individual who has granted their voluntary consent.”

Further, it adds that “neither may the State penalize, prosecute, or take adverse action against any individual or entity for aiding or assisting another individual in the exercise of the rights established by this initiative.”

“The fallout of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade has shown us that we have already suffered one year too long without the guaranteed right to reproductive freedom, and we simply cannot afford to stand by and allow any further encroachment on the fundamental right of Nevadans to determine their own reproductive lives and care,” Lindsey Harmon, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada told NBC News, which first reported the story.

Currently, Nevada law ensures abortion protections for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. The proposed constitutional language would provide similar protections by banning restrictions before fetal viability; which usually occurs around the same point in pregnancy. Amending the state’s constitution would make it more difficult to undo these protections.

Evidence suggests the proposal has good odds of passing. A recent poll from The Nevada Independent and Noble Predictive indicate that a 62% majority of Nevada voters support codifying abortion access in the state constitution. Similar measures passed in several states across the country last year, while several anti-abortion ballot measures have failed to pass, as voters have turned out to fight for reproductive rights.

The effort to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution comes as a contentious Senate race is set to take place in Nevada next year between incumbent Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen and one of several Republican candidates.

Rosen has been vocal in her support of abortion rights and supported the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that sought to enshrine protections from Roe v. Wade into federal law, but was defeated in the Senate last year.

Most of her potential Republican opponents, however, oppose abortion rights.

Retired US Army Capt. Sam Brown, considered the favorite in the Republican primary, is on record previously supporting a 20-week abortion ban in Texas, where he previously ran for office.

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.

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