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Constitutional amendment on abortion rights qualifies for November ballot

County officials verified more than 127,000 signatures supporting the petition. A long-shot lawsuit is the only way the amendment would not land on the ballot.
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
Election 2024ElectionsHealth Care

The effort to enshrine abortions rights in the Nevada Constitution has qualified for the November ballot after gathering enough signatures, the secretary of state’s office announced Friday.

County election officials verified more than 127,000 signatures gathered by Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom, well more than the roughly 102,000 needed to qualify for the ballot. The group said in May that it had submitted more than 200,000 signatures for verification. 

The approval marks a victory for Democrats who have pushed for months to land the question on the general election ballot to shore up abortion rights in the Silver State and drive more Democrats to the polls in November.

“Today, we are thrilled that Nevadans will be able to make their voices heard and stand up for the right to make their own healthcare decisions in the face of government interference,” Lindsey Harmon, the president of Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom, said in a statement.

Abortion is already legal up through 24 weeks into a pregnancy in Nevada because of a 1990 referendum that can only be overturned by a majority vote of the people. Democrats said enshrining abortion rights in the state Constitution is necessary after the fall of Roe v. Wade two years ago led to abortion bans being enacted nationwide.

Because the petition is an effort to amend the state Constitution, it must be approved by voters twice, so it would head to the 2026 ballot if a majority of voters approve the measure in November.

Republicans have said the ballot question is misleading because abortion is already legal in the state. An effort to block the petition is pending before the Nevada Supreme Court, but its success is an extreme long shot. The effort failed in district court, and the state Supreme Court already approved a broader reproductive rights ballot petition earlier this year that had faced steeper legal hurdles.

The petition approved Friday would protect the right to an abortion until fetal viability, generally considered about 23 or 24 weeks, or when necessary to protect the life or health of the pregnant patient. These are essentially the same protections that already exist in Nevada, but a constitutional right to an abortion would be harder to overturn.

State law required petition supporters to gather at least 102,362 signatures by June 26, with a minimum of 25,591 signatures coming from each of the state’s four congressional districts. The Nevada Secretary of State’s Office announced Friday that county election officials had verified at least 29,000 signatures in each congressional district.

Democrats hope the measure will increase voter turnout and enthusiasm in a swing state where both presidential candidates are unpopular. Similar abortion ballot measures have had success since Roe was overturned, including in Ohio and Kentucky.

An Emerson College poll from earlier this month found 58 percent of Nevadans supported the measure, with only 20 percent opposing and the rest undecided.

The Nevada ballot initiative has garnered national attention. A nonprofit affiliated with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat who is likely a future presidential candidate, donated $1 million to petition efforts last year.

The legal challenge of the petition comes from a new PAC called the Coalition for Parents and Children. The lawsuit argued that the petition’s “description of effect” — a 200-word summary included on signature gathering forms — was misleading by not acknowledging that abortion is already legal under Nevada law. It also said the petition would create an unfunded mandate. 

Carson City District Court Judge James Russell ruled the “description of effect” was “legally adequate” and there was no evidence the petition would result in an unfunded mandate. An appeal is pending before the state Supreme Court and an opening brief is due next week.

The Legislature also passed its own constitutional amendment last year to guarantee “a fundamental right to reproductive freedom.” The measure must be approved again in the 2025 legislative session to qualify for the 2026 general election ballot.


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