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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Nevada to Decide on Abortion Rights in Upcoming November Vote

This November, Nevada residents will vote on whether to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution. This initiative follows the successful efforts of abortion rights groups to secure similar measures across various states by putting the issue directly before voters.

On Friday, the Nevada secretary of state’s office certified a ballot initiative that aims to amend the State Constitution to include an explicit right to abortion. The secretary of state’s office confirmed just under 128,000 valid signatures.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling in 2022, which overturned Roe v. Wade and removed the constitutional right to abortion, 18 Republican-controlled states have implemented near-total bans or severe restrictions on the procedure. Conversely, at least a dozen states, mostly Democrat-led, have introduced new protections for abortion rights.

The Dobbs ruling has galvanized abortion rights supporters, leading to a movement to enshrine abortion rights in state constitutions through ballot measures. In 2023, similar measures have been placed on the ballot in at least five other states: Florida, Colorado, New York, Maryland, and South Dakota. Initiatives in Arizona, Arkansas, and Nebraska are also underway, facing deadlines for signature submissions this week. If successful, voters in up to 11 states could address the issue in the upcoming November elections.

Currently, abortion in Nevada is legal up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. The new ballot initiative seeks to protect abortion up to the point of fetal viability, approximately 24 weeks, by amending the State Constitution, as constitutional protections are harder to repeal than state laws.

Similar to measures passed in Ohio and Michigan, the Nevada initiative would allow the state to restrict abortion after fetal viability, except when, in the “good faith judgment” of the treating physician, an abortion is necessary to protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant patient.

Abortion, historically a key issue for motivating Republican voters, has become a potent issue for Democrats since the fall of Roe v. Wade. Democrats hope that this year’s ballot measures will drive voter turnout on Election Day and improve their electoral prospects. In key swing states like Arizona and Florida, Democrats are particularly hopeful. In Montana, a measure that has gathered signatures well over the threshold but is yet to be certified could aid Senator Jon Tester’s re-election campaign.

Polls indicate that a majority of people in most states support legal abortion in all or most cases. Voters in seven states have already considered ballot measures related to abortion, consistently siding with abortion rights groups in each instance, from California to Kansas.

Support for abortion rights is particularly strong in Nevada, a crucial battleground state. A recent Emerson College poll revealed that 58 percent of Nevadans would vote yes on the ballot measure. For the constitutional amendment to take effect, voters must approve it both this November and again in 2026.

Minera-Alvis emphasized her group’s goal to inform the public about Nevada’s existing law, which already allows abortions after 24 weeks if a physician deems it necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health. “If the average Nevadan finds out what the law already is, what’s already legalized, they would not vote for it,” she asserted.

Among the races in Nevada is a Senate seat contest, where incumbent Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen leads her Republican challenger, Sam Brown. Rosen supports the abortion measure, stating it ensures that “every Nevadan can make their own health care decisions, free from government interference.” Brown, an Army veteran endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump, positions himself as a moderate on abortion, stating he would not seek to change Nevada’s abortion law or support a national abortion ban. However, Minera-Alvis expressed a desire for Brown to adopt a more assertive pro-life stance, advocating for lower gestational limits in the future.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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