April Corbin Gurnus

(Nevada Current) A political action committee founded by Planned Parenthood Votes, NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada and the ACLU of Nevada is leading a new effort to enshrine abortion rights and other reproductive health protections into the state constitution.

Nevada for Reproductive Freedom on Thursday announced they have filed a petition initiative to establish a fundamental right to reproductive health, which is described as “the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including, without limitation, prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, birth control, vasectomy, tubal ligation, abortion, abortion care, management of a miscarriage and infertility care.”

If that sounds like a familiar pitch, that’s because the proposal is similar to an effort this year by Democrats in the state legislature. Senate Joint Resolution 7 from the 2023 session contains identical language. It passed the legislature on party lines and will return to the 2025 session for consideration. If lawmakers pass a second time, the resolution would appear before voters on the 2026 ballot for final passage.

That prospect seems likely given the margins by which Democrats control the Legislature. The party has a supermajority in the Assembly and is one shy of it in the Senate, and they are going into an election cycle where they should see the benefits of redistricting.

The new petition initiative would put the issue of reproductive freedom before voters for initial consideration on next year’s ballot, but because petition initiatives proposing constitutional changes must pass twice, it would still appear before voters in 2026.

To qualify for the ballot, Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom must gather around 103,000 signatures, split evenly between the state’s four congressional districts.

“The urgency of this moment in our nation’s history demands immediate action from us all,” said Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada Executive Director Lindsey Harmon in a statement. “Abortion rights and access in this country are in peril like never before despite the fact that the broad majority of Americans support abortion rights.”

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizarro in a statement said she fully supports the measure, adding that it is “an important ballot measure that gives Nevadans the right to control their bodies – not out of touch politicians.”

Abortion rights issues are seen as a driver of voter turnout that favors Democrats.

In recent years, but especially since the overturning of Roe v. Wade at the federal level, Nevada has moved to better protect abortion rights. For example, state legislators made it illegal for state officials and administrators to assist in the arrest or extradition of someone charged in another state for a crime related to reproductive health care services, unless that crime is also a crime in Nevada.

The ACLU of Nevada is also challenging in court Nevada Medicaid’s ban on abortion coverage, saying it violates the state’s Equal Rights Amendment, which voters approved and put in the constitution last year. ACLU is bringing the challenge on behalf of Silver State Hope Fund — a nonprofit that offers financial assistance to help people pay for abortion, as well as travel, lodging, and childcare to ensure they can access care.