Abortion Rights Group Claims to Have Enough Signatures on Petition for Ballot Proposal

Abortion rights supporters in Nevada announced on Monday that they have gathered enough signatures on a petition to be eligible for a ballot measure. This measure aims to protect and guarantee abortion rights in the state’s constitution.

The organization called Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom has gathered over 200,000 signatures from voters in all 17 counties. This is twice the amount needed, which is 102,362 signatures, to be eligible for the November 2024 election.

The amendment would ensure that individuals have the right to get an abortion from a qualified healthcare professional until the fetus can survive outside the womb, or when it is necessary to protect the life or health of the pregnant person. The state or its political subdivisions would not be able to interfere with this right.

The Nevada Secretary of State’s office must confirm the signatures on the petition for the ballot measure before the proposed amendment can be approved. If the proposal is included on the ballot, it will need to be voted on in 2024 and 2026 before it can become a constitutional amendment.

Lindsey Harmon, who is the president of Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom, told ABC News that she thinks the large number of signatures shows that protecting reproductive rights is an important issue, regardless of political party.

“I believe that there is a significant amount of support from both political parties and individuals who do not align with any party. We expect that many people, regardless of their political affiliation, will express their opinions on this matter in 2024,” she stated. “In Nevada, most people support the availability of abortion, and we are grateful to be here to provide a safe place for patients who need this care.”

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The group was also working on another measure that would give all residents the right to make decisions about “all matters relating to pregnancy,” such as abortion, abortion care, birth control, vasectomies, tubal litigation, and infertility care.

In November 2023, a lower court stopped the petition from progressing. They said it was misleading and broke a rule that says a petition for changing the constitution must only be about one thing.

But in April 2024, the state Supreme Court changed its decision and said that all the terms were part of “reproductive rights.”

“All of the medical procedures mentioned in the initiative petition are related to reproduction.” The opinion stated that it is incorrect to claim that they cannot all be addressed together because they are separate procedures.

Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom stated that they currently intend to pursue a more specific measure.

“For 2024, we will continue using the language that has been shared. However, it’s crucial to remember that we should take initiative and find ways to demonstrate that reproductive rights are a part of healthcare. These rights are important to people and essential for the overall functioning of democracy,” stated Harmon. “I believe we are currently very focused on the current election, but we will definitely try to be more proactive in the future whenever possible.”

In Nevada, abortions are allowed after 24 weeks of pregnancy or later, as stated by the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that focuses on sexual and reproductive rights.

In addition, Nevada law ensures that individuals who enter or leave abortion clinics are protected from harassment and physical harm. In 2023, a law called the interstate shield law was passed. This law protects abortion providers from being investigated by other states.

Abortion rights advocates believe that by including protections in the state constitution, it will strengthen the existing protections and make it more difficult for them to be reversed, especially as the national laws regarding abortion access may change.

President Joe Biden has promised to protect women’s rights to make decisions about their own reproductive health and work towards ensuring that abortion remains legal across the country.

“It’s important to remember that this is about having control over our own bodies and personal freedoms. We think these rights should be included in the state constitution, and we should also make sure to strengthen and safeguard access to them,” Harmon said. “We have noticed that many lawmakers in other states are trying to pass abortion bans even though the majority of people are against them. Therefore, we want to ensure that we are doing everything possible in Nevada to allow people to have a say in this matter through voting.” Remove the power from the elected officials and give the decision-making back to the people.

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