(This article was written on June 26, 2022.)
ASSEMBLY CANDIDATE, DISTRICT 42
On Friday, June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision, making abortion legislation an issue for each state legislature, including Nevada.
In 1990, Nevada voters passed the Abortion Legal to 24 Weeks Statute Referendum. Passage of this referendum formally affirmed NRS 442.250, which is the Nevada law codifying the conditions under which abortion is permitted. By formally affirming this law through referendum, future legislatures cannot amend, repeal or otherwise change NRS 442.250. The only way to change a law that voters have approved by statute affirmation is by a subsequent ballot measure.
Therefore, regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision to lift Federal restrictions on state legislatures to legalize abortion, the affirmation of NRS 442.250 in 1990 prohibits the legislature from modifying the legality of abortion law in Nevada, and it cannot be changed by the Nevada legislature.
Most of us are aware that abortion is a very emotionally charged issue. In past elections, many voters have chosen candidates based on their positions on this issue. With the law as it is in Nevada, the next election should not be a referendum on abortion. Those who support the current law in Nevada should feel reassured that the opinions of the legislature that is elected will not impact the legality of abortion. Those who oppose the current law and want to ban abortion should understand that a legislator cannot promise to introduce or support legislation to in any way modify NRS 442.250. To the extent that citizens wish to engage in activism on this issue, it will be up to them to propose, support or oppose a ballot initiative, should such an initiative come from the voters.
With all of the important issues that our state is facing, this is not the time to support a candidate based on a single issue position such as abortion, or to make the upcoming election a referendum on abortion. Regardless of which slate of candidates you support at the ballot box, any change or rejection of change to abortion legislation will come from you, the voters, and your vote for Nevada elected officials will not change the status of legal abortion in the state of Nevada.