Lawmakers pass abortion protections, putting them one step closer to Nevada Constitution

Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller

A measure seeking to enshrine abortion protections in the Nevada Constitution passed out of the Assembly on Wednesday on a 28-14, party-line vote, bringing it one step closer to the ballot. 

Assembly passage means the measure, which passed out of the Senate in mid-April with all Republicans in opposition, has cleared the first of three significant hurdles the proposed amendment needs to clear before it is codified in the state constitution. It will need to return and pass out of the Legislature again in 2025 and then go before voters during the 2026 general election.

“Now that a radical Supreme Court has gutted the right to choose at the federal level, Nevadans should be given the opportunity to decide for themselves whether to protect reproductive freedoms in the state constitution,” Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro said in a statement following the Senate’s party-line vote on the measure April 17.

The proposed constitutional amendment, SJR7, would guarantee “a fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” authorize the state “to regulate abortion care after fetal viability with certain exceptions” and prevent the state from penalizing or prosecuting an individual exercising their “reproductive freedom.”

In 1990, nearly two-thirds of Nevada voters approved a ballot measure codifying into state law the legality of abortions within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy — timing that mirrored federal abortion protections established under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.

Passage of that referendum means that only a direct majority vote from the people can overturn the language voters approved in 1990. Neither Nevada lawmakers nor the governor can restrict abortion access earlier than 24 weeks into pregnancy. However, proponents of the amendment say SJR7 would offer the most permanent protections for abortion rights at the state level, making them even harder to repeal.

Republican lawmakers pointed to existing abortion protections as a reason for opposition.

“Nothing has changed the legality of access to abortion rights here in Nevada since the Dobbs decision,” said Assemblywoman Alexis Hansen (R-Sparks) ahead of the vote. “SJR7 is duplicative in regards to certain protections already protected.”

Though Nevada is considered a political swing state, there is continued widespread support for abortion access within the state regardless of party registration. Some experts say the Nevada electorate’s lean in favor of abortion rights may be influenced by the state having one of the highest rates of nonreligious people and a more libertarian streak of wanting less government involvement.

Polling indicates a majority of Nevada voters — regardless of party affiliation — support legal abortions in at least some circumstances. An April Nevada Independent/Noble Predictive Insights poll also shows that 62 percent of respondents said they would support adding the right for a woman to obtain an abortion to the state constitution. 


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