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

Judge Rules Nevadans Must Pay for Medicaid Abortions

Judge agrees with ACLU citing the Equal Rights Amendment, passed in 2022, as justification for the ruling

By Megan Barth, March 20, 2024 1:44 pm

A Clark County judge has ruled that Nevada Medicaid must cover abortions, citing the newly-passed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) as justification for the ruling. The ACLU represented plaintiff Silver State Hope Fund who provides funds for abortion to those who travel to Nevada for the procedure.

The ACLU argued that since Medicaid covers vasectomies, the ERA provides equal treatment for all medical procedures, including abortion.

“From our vantage point, it is the most significant ruling maybe nationally with respect to Medicaid coverage,” Athar Haseebullah, Executive director of the ACLU of Nevada told FOX5. “The equal rights amendment specifically precludes sex based discrimination of a medical service,” Haseebullah noted.

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

FOX5 reports:

“This is essentially what we warned a lot of people about,” contended Krystal Minera-Alvis, Communication Director for Nevada Right to Life. Nevada Right to Life, a pro-life advocacy organization, says this is why they advocated against the Equal Rights Amendment, the court’s ruling now clearing the way for taxpayer money to pay for elective procedures.

“Abortions for cases of rape, incest, and if a mother’s life is at risk, they have already been covered… They are coming in because they want abortion on demand and free abortions. If you want to make that choice, it shouldn’t have to fall on someone else to pay that,” Krystal Minera-Alvis asserted.

As the ERA was pushed through the legislature, without proper hearings or public comment, opponents of the legislation warned of the consequences of the ballot initiative.

In a statement to The Globe prior to the passage of the constitutional amendment, Janine Hanson, Chairman of Stop Question 1 ERA, said:

“Question 1 will be devastating to Nevada’s women and girls. Biological men and boys will be allowed to complete against them in sports and take their scholarships. Their privacy and safety will be at risk in bathrooms, showers and locker rooms. If radical Question 1 passes and becomes a part of Nevadan’s constitution, if we don’t like the consequences, it will be almost impossible to change.

Question One passed the Nevada Legislature with almost no public testimony as the Legislature was closed during Covid. Protect women, girls and parental rights.

Just like under the New Mexico State ERA, it will mean taxpayers will be forced to pay for abortions. Children will be able to receive puberty blockers and sex change surgery without parental knowledge or consent.” (emphasis added)

Prior to the ERA’s passage in 2022, the primary sponsor of the initiative Senate Majority leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) testified that the language in the ERA would not provide funding for abortions.

(Screenshot provided by @VictorJoecks)

According to KFF, since 1977, the Hyde Amendment has banned the use of any federal funds for abortion, only allowing exceptions to pay for terminating pregnancies that endanger the life of the pregnant person or that result from rape or incest.Among the 36 states that do not ban abortion, 19 states and DC follow the Hyde Amendment and 17 states use state funds to pay for abortions for women with low incomes insured by Medicaid beyond the Hyde limitations.

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.

Abortion access to out-of-state patients was further protected through SB131, a law introduced by state Senator Cannizzaro and signed by Republican Governor Joe Lombardo. SB131 codified former Governor Sisolak’s Executive Order which declared “reproductive health care is a basic human right — We are committed to ensuring safe access to abortions for women seeking refuge from the restrictive laws in their state.”

Democratic lawmakers are now backing another ballot initiative that would enshrine abortion into the Nevada constitution. If the initiative is approved by voters in the November 2024 and November 2026 general elections, the provisions of the initiative would become effective in November 2026.

The Nevada ACLU is expecting the state to appeal the judges decision and anticipates a subsequent ruling  from the Nevada Supreme Court.

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