VP Harris urges Nevadans to support abortion rights ballot measure

Vice President Kamala Harris speaking on reproductive rights during an event in Las Vegas on April 15, 2024. (Jannelle Calderon / the Nevadan / El Nevadense)

By Jannelle Calderón

April 16, 2024

Vice President Kamala Harris and an Arizona state legislator warned Nevadans abortion bans “can happen anywhere” and that a national ban could supersede state protections.

In a visit to Las Vegas on Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted the importance of preserving abortion protections in Nevada with a petition initiative to enshrine such protections into the state constitution on track to be on the November ballot.

The Vice President’s visit comes a week after the Arizona Supreme Court decided to uphold a near-total abortion ban drafted in 1864.

“[These are] laws that would punish women, laws that are meant to judge and make people feel as though they’ve done something wrong, and as though they are alone and should be embarrassed—laws that are immoral,” Harris said in her speech. “So we are here to say that we are not going to stand for this. It is not okay.”

In 1990, Nevadans voted to codify abortion up to 24 weeks, but that can be changed with another referendum vote or be superseded by a national abortion ban. Amending the state’s constitution would make it more difficult to undo these protections.

The ballot measure 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.

Arizona Democratic state Sen. Eva Burch joined Harris at the event and warned Nevadans of what is at stake when it comes to abortion access. Burch made headlines last month after revealing during a floor speech that she was planning to get an abortion because her pregnancy was no longer viable, and criticizing restrictions in Arizona as being out of touch.

Burch said that former President’s Donald Trump — who appointed three of the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade — was to blame when the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the 160 year-old abortion ban that only includes an exception to save the life of the mother — but not for cases of rape or incest.

She emphasized that the measure was drafted at a time when women couldn’t vote, couldn’t have a bank account, couldn’t marry outside their race, and when the age of consent was 10 years old.

“That’s the standard that we’re setting in this country in America when we let extremist judges and politicians call the shots,” Burch said. “The decision to choose when and how to start a family belongs to each of us as individuals. It belongs to you. And it belongs to me. But they will stop at nothing to take it away from us and it’s about control. And this can happen anywhere.”

The petition initiative to enshrine abortion protections in the Nevada constitution has received enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, after receiving over 110,000 signatures in support. Statewide petitions require about 102,000 signatures from registered Nevada voters, with at least a quarter of the signatures coming from each of the state’s four congressional districts.

Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom is continuing to gather signatures, however, with the hope of collecting twice as many signatures as are required by the Secretary of State’s office, which still needs to verify the signatures.

  • Jannelle Calderón

    Jannelle Calderón is a bilingual politics and community multimedia reporter with a passion to highlight the human side to policy and issues as well as showcasing the vibrant cultures found in Southern Nevada. She previously reported for The Nevada Independent and graduated from UNLV.

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