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UNLV professor: SCOTUS ruling on Roe vs. Wade has 'minimal' legal impact in Nevada

Pro choice rally
Posted at 4:13 PM, Jun 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 11:47:58-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — With the Supreme Court now overturning Roe vs. Wade, what does this mean for abortion access here in Nevada?

The seismic shift of the United States Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade generating frustration.

"I'm really disappointed and frankly frightened at what's next,” Attorney General Aaron Ford said.

But also elation.

"The Supreme Court has finally realized there's no right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution,” Melissa Clement, director of Nevada Right to Life said.

Access to abortion is protected under state law in Nevada. Voters in 1990 by a nearly two thirds margin approved the law to allow abortions up to 24 weeks. UNLV political science professor Rebecca Gill says the legal impact of the high court's decision for Nevadans is minimal. Gill says neither the governor nor our legislature can overturn the law.

"They're likely to weather the storms of the kind of swings back and forth in regular partisan politics."

Prof. Gill says actually changing the law faces many hurdles. Voters would have to agree to do so over the course of two consecutive election cycles.

"This would be another ballot measure and it would take a significant amount of time and it would have to go to the legislature more than once,” she said.

Attorney General Ford says his office is committed to protecting abortion access but believes there could be a push for restrictions at the margins.

"What can happen is that they can whittle away at it. Mess around the curves of the right. They may put restrictions on certain activities leading up to it,” he said.

The pro-life group Nevada Right to Life welcomed the SCOTUS decision saying this sends the question of abortion access back to the states. Director Melissa Clement acknowledges the validity of current state law on the issue but will continue to target modifications such as parental notification.

"There's a huge loophole in Nevada law that allows an underage girl to get an abortion without even one parent knowing. That's what we've been changing for years and that's what we'll continue to focus on,” she said.

Recent polling in Nevada shows people’s views on abortion haven’t changed much from 1990 with about two thirds identifying as pro-choice.