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

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(LAS VEGAS) -- 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.

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.

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.

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.

"As anti-abortion extremists continue to attack our fundamental rights -- from abortion to birth control to fertility treatments -- this decision recognizes that reproductive freedom includes all reproductive health care," a statement released by Reproductive Freedom for All Nevada, a group that is part of the ballot campaign, said last month.

Nevadans For Reproductive Freedom did not immediately reply to ABC News' request for comment.

Monday, May 20, 2024 at 5:19PM by Mary Kekatos, ABC News Permalink