Effort To Codify Abortion Rights Underway In Another State

Nevada is the latest state where advocates are pushing to enshrine abortion access and other reproductive rights in the state constitution, taking a cue from other states that have successfully codified those rights after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade last year.

Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom ― a coalition made up of Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada, NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada ― submitted a petition with Nevada’s secretary of state’s office on Thursday seeking to ask voters to preserve those protections with a constitutional amendment.

If the group collects at least 103,000 valid signatures from registered voters by next June 26, the question will appear on the ballot in November 2024. If a simple majority supports an amendment, voters will be asked in 2026 to give it a second approval, per Nevada’s rules for changes to its state constitution.

“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, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada, said in a statement.

People in Reno, Nevada, protest the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022.
People in Reno, Nevada, protest the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022.

People in Reno, Nevada, protest the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022.

The amendment would ensure that Nevadans have the right to make decisions about “all matters relating to pregnancy,” according to a copy of the text obtained by HuffPost. That includes, but is not limited to, “prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, birth control, vasectomy, tubal ligation, abortion,  abortion care, management of a miscarriage and infertility care.”

The amendment would allow the state to “regulate the provision of abortion  care after fetal viability,” which typically begins at around the 24th week of gestation, so long as the pregnancy doesn’t threaten the “life or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual.”

The effort in Nevada comes as pro-natalist Republicans, galvanized by the Supreme Court’s decision that states can set their own restrictions on abortion, have set their sights on an all-out, nationwide abortion ban ― even though laws that extreme remain very unpopular with voters, polls show.

“When the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion care, it permanently altered the landscape for access across the country,” Caroline Mello Roberson, director of state campaigns for NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement. “Now, state-level protections like those we have in Nevada are being tested like never before. Anti-abortion extremists are more determined than ever to end abortion access, and we cannot and will not allow their dangerous vision for Nevada to become a reality.”

Nevada, where polls show roughly 7 out of 10 voters identify as pro-choice, currently has a state law protecting abortion, but a constitutional amendment would make that right more secure. Nevada is among the states that have seen a sharp increase in abortion patients since the fall of Roe, as people from states that have cracked down on the procedure migrate around the country for care.

Several other states have passed similar constitutional amendments during recent elections, including California, Michigan and Vermont. Anti-abortion efforts in deep red states have proven unpopular in the past year as well, with Kentucky voters rejecting an effort to codify in the state constitution that the state does not protect the right to abortion or require funding for abortion care. Kansas voters also overwhelmingly chose to keep abortion protections in their state constitution.

Ohioans will vote on a similar constitutional amendment later this year, and an effort to place a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights on the ballot in Florida is underway as well.