Home>Articles>Judge Rejects Petition To Enshrine Abortion In Nevada Constitution

An abortion rights activist takes to the streets in protest (Photo: Flickr)

Judge Rejects Petition To Enshrine Abortion In Nevada Constitution

Carson City District Judge James Russell determined that the petition violated state law, mislead voters and contained an unfunded mandate

By Megan Barth, November 27, 2023 11:33 am

Carson District Court Judge James Russell rejected an initiative petition filed by Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom PAC that would have enshrined abortion in the state constitution citing that the petition violated state law requiring an initiative petition to be of a single subject. The initiative, if passed, would have expand “reproductive freedom” to include prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, birth control, vasectomy, tubal ligation, abortion and abortion care.

Judge Russell also said that the petition was misleading to voters and contained an unfunded mandate.

“Again, it is clear to me this is probably the clearest case I have seen that I think there is a violation of the single subject rule,” said Judge Russell. “I just, I’ve seen a lot of them over the years and in respect to this particular matter there are too many subjects. Not all of which are functionally related to each other.”

The Coalition for Parents and Children PAC, represented by Attorney Jason Guinasso, filed the challenge and expected an appeal.

Nevadans for Reproductive Rights president Lindsey Harmon said the group “will not let one judge’s misguided ruling deter us from giving Nevadans the opportunity to vote to permanently protect their reproductive rights in the Nevada Constitution.”

Although Judge Russell rejected the ballot intiative, Democrats in the state legislature passed SJR-7, a constitutional amendment  that mirrors the language of the rejected initiative. Nevada law requires that any constitutional amendment pass two consecutive legislative sessions to be presented to registered voters via a ballot question.

Senator Cannizzaro flanked by pro-abortion organizations and supporters (Photo: @PPVotesNV)

As reported by The Globe, 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 the “right to reproductive freedom.” SJR7 further states that reproductive rights would include, “without limitation, prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, birth control, vasectomy, tubal litigation, abortion, abortion care, management of a miscarriage and infertility care.”

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, this effort is more political than it is protective in that the rush to get abortion on the 2024 ballot has to do with boosting voter turn out for vulnerable Democrats, like President Joe Biden, and secure a potential veto-proof Democratic supermajority in the Nevada legislature. As Nevada Democrats gerrymandered the state into a Democratic supermajority in 2021, the opportunity for seizing one-party control of the legislative branch is possible.

Nevadans passed an initiative in 1990 that codified abortions up to six months of pregnancy with extended protections if the life of the mother is threatened. The overturn of Roe v. Wade does not change Nevada Law, but the Reproductive Freedom Amendment does in that it removes the six month limitation and expands abortion to the moment of birth when the (undefined) health or mental health of the mother is at risk.

Additionally, as Nevada is the number one state for human trafficking, the absence of parental consent for abortion should be a concern, but Nevada Democrats have publicly lobbied against parental consent for minors. A 2015 bill that would have reinstated parental notification requirements in Nevada did not become law.



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Megan Barth
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