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Proposed amendment could lead to abortion rights being put into Nevada state constitution

Posted at 2:50 PM, Mar 16, 2023

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A new amendment could enshrine abortion rights into the Nevada state constitution.

On Thursday, Nevada Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro proposed the legislation which, if codified into the constitution, would require another constitutional amendment to roll them back. That means for abortion rights to be taken away in Nevada, it would require either approval from two legislative sessions and an election or two consecutive elections.

It would offer an additional layer of protection since abortion rights up to 24 weeks were already codified into state law through a 1990 ballot measure. Back in 2019, then-Governor Steve Sisolak signed the Trust Nevada Women Act into law, which decriminalized medication abortions and removed informed consent laws among other barriers to accessing reproductive health care.

This isn't the first abortion-related piece of legislation Nevada lawmakers are tackling this legislative session. Last month, a bill was introduced that would codify abortion protections for patients seeking care from out of state. Those rights were initially protected by an executive order signed by Sisolak following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. The measure was met with mixed results from legislators with supporters saying it was needed while those against the legislation said it could open "a dangerous door in the law."

More and more patients are continued to come to Nevada for abortion procedures following the Roe v. Wade decision. As Channel 13 reported in August, nearly half of abortion patients in Nevada are from other states. In Las Vegas, there are only seven health centers that administer abortions and there are only two in Reno.

At the time, Planned Parenthood told Channel 13 it could create issues to meet demand.

"We must expand and protect care in neighboring states," a Planned Parenthood spokesperson said. "Our doors are open. We are working hard to see as many patients as we can."

However, demand could soon be going up yet again. On Wednesday, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a bill into law where abortion clinics will be required to close either by the end of the year or when their license expires, whichever comes first. It's set to take effect on May 3. A full ban would then be instituted on January 1, 2024.

On Thursday, Cox told the Associated Press the law does offer clarity to hospitals providing emergency abortions in cases where the mother's health is threatened as well as cases or rape or incest. The Utah Hospital Association said it wouldn't be a complete ban on abortions in the state where they are legal up to 18 weeks. However, they said it would be harder since patients would need to go to hospitals instead of clinics for those procedures meaning higher costs for the patient and more strain on the hospital due to nationwide staffing shortages.

We took a look at the other states surrounding Nevada and what their policies are.

ARIZONA

Under an Arizona law that was signed in 2022, abortions are allowed in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. There are also no exceptions for rape or incest. It also bans abortions for families that learn later on in a pregnancy that a fetus isn't viable. However, it does have exemptions for medical emergencies where the mother's life is at risk or could have permanent, irreversible injuries.

CALIFORNIA

Abortion rights were protected under state law in 1969 and in November 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom approved Prop 1, which adds abortion and contraception rights to the California state constitution. That's according to the Center For Reproductive Rights.

More abortion protections could also be on the way. On Monday, Democratic lawmakers in the state introduced at least 17 bills that would add additional protections. The Los Angeles Times reports some of those measures include expanding privacy protections for those who use pregnancy trackers, bolster privacy for medical records, and require health insurance companies based outside of California to cover abortion and gender-affirming care to policyholders in the state.

OREGON

Abortion is also legal in Oregon and is protected by state law. However, abortion providers are required to submit reports to the state.

IDAHO

In a ruling handed down in January, the Idaho Supreme Court will uphold the state's near-total abortion ban. That includes prohibiting abortion at conception and after six weeks of pregnancy. The only exceptions are if it's necessary to save the mother's life or in cases of rape and incest.