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Judge rejects ballot initiative to codify abortion rights in Nevada constitution

A Carson City judge struck down a petition initiative that aimed to codify the right to reproductive freedom in the Nevada constitution.

Judge James Russell on Tuesday sided with a newly created political action committee that filed a lawsuit against the Nevada Secretary of State in October seeking to block the ballot initiative which would have expanded Nevada’s 1990 voter referendum that codified abortion protections into state law by also putting those rights in the state constitution.

It would have ensured that every individual has a right to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, birth control, vasectomies, tubal ligation, miscarriage management and infertility care, according to the initiative petition.

The initiative, brought forward by Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom, also would have protected people seeking abortions from prosecution or penalties as well as protect health care providers and those who help people get an abortion.

The political action committee called the Coalition for Parents and Children argued the initiative was too broad, misleading and contained an unfunded mandate in violation of Nevada law.

Judge Russell agreed that the petition “embraces a multitude of subjects that amount to logrolling.”

He said it is unclear how a vasectomy relates to infertility care or postpartum care, and how postpartum care relates to abortions and birth control. He also found that funding would need to be appropriated to create a panel or board to evaluate whether a provider of health care performed an abortion within the standard of care.

While the petition does not define the term “provider of health care,” other Nevada law defines it to include physician assistants, dentists and chiropractors, Russell wrote.

Because the petition would prohibit the state from penalizing, prosecuting or “taking adverse action against” any provider of health care for acting within the standard of care in performing an abortion, it is unclear how that would functionally relate to postpartum care, birth control and other proposed protections, he wrote.

Jason Guinasso, attorney for Coalition for Parents and Children, wrote in a statement Wednesday that proponents of the initiative “have not thought through the foreseeable consequences of what they are proposing in their initiative, including the fiscal impact on Nevada taxpayers.”

But the group that filed the initiative, Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom, plans to appeal the ruling in Nevada Supreme Court.

“Nevadans overwhelmingly support putting reproductive rights into our state constitution, and voters should be aware that anti-abortion advocates still have plenty of state government allies who are willing to help them undermine reproductive freedom,” said Lindsey Harmon, president of Nevadans For Reproductive Freedom, in a statement.

She said the group “will not let one judge’s misguided ruling deter us from giving Nevadans the opportunity to vote to permanently protect their reproductive rights in the Nevada Constitution.”

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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