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Abortion-rights advocates rally in Las Vegas after leaked draft opinion

Updated May 3, 2022 - 8:52 pm

The message was clear from the roughly 200 people gathered Tuesday evening in downtown Las Vegas in support of abortion rights: “Stand up, fight back!”

That refrain was one of several shouted in call and response fashion at the rally outside the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse, 333 Las Vegas Blvd. South, which was organized by the Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada PAC.

Attention to the divisive issue was renewed Monday when a majority opinion draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision was leaked to the press, indicating a preliminary tally of votes would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Shanzeh Aslam, economic justice program manager for Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, told her story about terminating a pregnancy nine years ago while she was in an abusive relationship.

“Our rights are being attacked in such a personal, intimate way,” Aslam said. “And without discussing how it personally and intimately can affect lives, we’re not going to be able to have this resonate with other people.”

Elected officials including U.S. Reps. Dina Titus, Steven Horsford and Susie Lee joined advocacy groups and residents. Some attendees held signs that said “Are we seriously having this debate again?”

“It’s appalling that in 2022 we’re having to have these conversations when we thought we were good for 50 years,” Aslam said.

Alexa Solis, the strategic program manager for Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada, said her first reaction to seeing Monday’s news was sadness. She called it “expected, but unexpected.” She said that the goal of the rally was to galvanize supporters and raise awareness that “this is really happening.”

“The impacts are so far reaching I think it’s hard to fathom,” Solis said. “It’s difficult to get your mind around it, but we’re ready and we’re working and we’re trying to make sure that people can still access care.”

Solis reminded people that abortions are still constitutionally protected despite the draft opinion being leaked.

“No matter where they are they can still access abortion, and should there come a time when that’s no longer possible, in Nevada they can come here,” Solis said.

Las Vegas resident Winter Hill held up a sign toward passing cars that read “Bans off our bodies.” Hill “was shaking” out of anger when the leak became public.

“I am frankly tired of seeing all of this debate throughout time about women, transgender people (having) to sit back and not be able to make their own decisions because people are making it for them,” Hill said. “It is just appalling to see how many people would like to sit us down and just tell us what to do.”

Hill added: “If it gets overturned, it’s just going to be a world of hell for everybody who decided to go against us … We will never stop fighting. We will never give up.”

Friends Nancy Thomas and Sara Conte also attended the rally. Conte said she volunteered with the National Organization for Women in Nevada in the 1970s to fight for abortion rights in Nevada.

“I believe it’s a woman’s right to have control over her own body, her destiny and her future,” Conte said. “As a 78-year-old woman who has lived with Roe v. Wade for 50 years, I think it’s unconscionable that one party, the Republican Party, can hijack a federal law and take it into their own hands to deny women access to safe, clean abortions.”

Nevada Democrats have spoken out strongly against the possible overturning of the seminal ruling. In a recorded video, Gov. Steve Sisolak said it would be a “devastating blow to women everywhere.”

The official vote by the Supreme Court is not expected for several weeks, according to reports. Nevada, however, would not be affected by the Supreme Court ruling to overturn the precedent law of 1973.

Nevada law makes abortion legal up to 24 weeks of pregnancy and longer under certain life-threatening medical conditions. Nevadans voted for it in 1990, and it can only be reversed through another referendum vote.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson @reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Ricardo Torres-Cortez contributed to this report.

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