Nevada advances proposal to enshrine abortion rights into state constitution
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers on Wednesday passed a joint resolution that would codify reproductive rights — including already-existing abortion access up to 24 weeks — into the state constitution.
The state Assembly approved of the measure 28 to 14 along party lines, about three weeks after the state Senate passed it 13 to 8 along party lines. State lawmakers must pass the resolution again in 2025 before it would go before voters as a ballot question in 2026. If passed, the resolution would provide the highest level of state protection for not only abortion rights, but also other reproductive access, including postpartum and prenatal care, as well as birth control.
“Our state, among many other states, are being tested whether we stand up for reproductive and medical freedom for Nevadans,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Selena La Rue Hatch before voting for the resolution. “Decisions about our health care, especially our reproductive health care, should be between a doctor, a patient, and those they trust.”
Since last year’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized the right to an abortion, more than a dozen states have effectively outlawed abortion and others have moved to further tighten abortion laws, including neighboring Utah and Idaho.
Abortion rights up to 24 weeks are already codified into Nevada law through a 1990 referendum vote, where two-thirds of voters were in favor. That can be changed with another referendum vote.
The standards are higher for amending the constitution, which requires either approval from two legislative sessions and an election, or two consecutive elections with a simple majority of votes. A governor is unable to veto a constitutional amendment.
Republicans spoke out against the proposal, mentioning that the protections are already codified into law and that it includes reproductive protections that extend beyond the 1990 referendum vote.
Republican Assemblywoman Danielle Gallant said she would be in favor of splitting the resolution into two proposals — one with abortion protections outlined in the 1990 referendum vote and another with the other reproductive protections — but would ultimately vote against the measure.
In an emotional speech, Republican Assemblyman Ken Gray recounted how his mother considered having an abortion before deciding against it, saying “if I weren't here, my kids wouldn't be here.”
“I cannot and will not view (abortion) as anything other than evil,” he said.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro led a group of 40 Democratic lawmakers in co-sponsoring the measure.
Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Stern on Twitter: @gabestern326.
Gabe Stern, The Associated Press