Nevada abortion rights group says it has enough signatures on petition for ballot measure

More than 200,000 people from all 17 counties signed, the group said.

May 20, 2024, 9:12 PM

Nevada abortion rights supporters said Monday they have enough signatures on a petition to qualify for a ballot measure that would enshrine abortion rights in the state's constitution.

Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom, the organization behind the petition, said it has collected more than 200,000 signatures from voters in all 17 counties, double the 102,362 threshold required to qualify for the November 2024 election.

The amendment would give individuals "a fundamental right to abortion performed or administered by a qualified health care practitioner until fetal viability, or when needed to protect the life or health of the pregnant patient, without interference from the state or its political subdivisions."

The Nevada Secretary of State's office will need to validate the signatures on the petition for the ballot measure before the proposed amendment is certified. If it gets on the ballot, it would need to be voted on in 2024 and 2026 before it becomes a constitutional amendment.

Lindsey Harmon, president of Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom, told ABC News said she believes the number of signatures means preserving reproductive rights is an important issue regardless of political party.

"I think it shows a lot of bipartisan and a lot of non-partisan support, and we imagine that a lot of folks, both Republicans and Democrats alike, are going to come out on this issue in 2024," she said. "Abortion access is overwhelmingly popular in the state of Nevada, and we feel so privileged to be here to make a safe space for patients who are seeking access to care."

The group had also been pursuing a second, broader measure that would grant all residents the right to make decisions regarding "all matters relating to pregnancy" including abortion, abortion care, birth control, vasectomies, tubal litigation and infertility care.

In November 2023, a lower court blocked the petition from moving forward, ruling that it is misleading and violated the single-subject rule, which requires an initiative petition proposing a constitutional amendment to contain a single subject.

PHOTO: A woman holds a "Abortion is Health Care" sign as abortion rights activists rally outside the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in protest of the overturning of Roe Vs. Wade by the Supreme Court, in Las Vegas, June 24, 2022.
A woman holds a "Abortion is Health Care" sign as abortion rights activists rally outside the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in protest of the overturning of Roe Vs. Wade by the Supreme Court, in Las Vegas, June 24, 2022.
Ronda Churchill/AFP via Getty Images

However, in April 2024, the state Supreme Court reversed the decision, arguing the terms all fell under the umbrella of "reproductive rights."

"[A]ll the medical procedures considered in the initiative petition concern reproduction. To assert that they could not all be addressed together because they are separate procedures is improper," the opinion read.

Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom said it currently plans to pursue the narrower measure.

"Obviously for 2024, we are sticking with the language that has been circulated, but it's important to keep in mind that we need to be proactive and how can we prove that reproductive rights [are] health care, and it's important to folks and fundamental to ... the democracy as a whole," Harmon said. "I think we're really focused on the election at hand, but certainly look for opportunities to be more proactive in the future."

In Nevada, abortions are permitted at 24 weeks gestation or later, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that studies sexual and reproductive rights.

Additionally, Nevada law protects anyone entering or exiting abortion clinics from harassment and physical harm. In 2023, an interstate shield law was also passed, protecting abortion providers from investigations by other states.

Abortion rights advocates say codifying protections in the state constitution will build upon existing protections and make it harder for them to be overturned as the national landscape of abortion access changes.

President Joe Biden has vowed to defend women's reproductive rights and fight for legal access to abortion on the national level.

"It's important to remember that this is about bodily autonomy and individual freedoms, so we believe that belongs in the state constitution, as well as just doubling down and protecting access," Harmon said. "We've seen a lot of legislators in a lot of other states push abortion bans against the will of the people and so we want to make sure that we're doing everything we can in the state of Nevada, as well as we want people in the state of Nevada to have an opportunity to vote on this. Take it out of the elected people's hands and return this vote to the vote of the people."

Related Topics