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Nevada to see wave of abortion patients if Roe reversed, advocates say

Updated May 4, 2022 - 10:25 am

Nevada will see an influx from other states of patients seeking abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, as a leaked draft opinion suggests, abortion advocates said Tuesday.

Nevada is one of 14 states with protections to keep abortions legal, said Lindsey Harmon, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada, the political arm of the organization which provides abortion services.

“Our right to abortion was statutorily protected through a referendum in 1990,” she said. “Even in a post-Roe world, the right to access abortion is still safe in the state of Nevada.”

Abortions are legal in the state up until 24 weeks of pregnancy, longer if the life of the mother is endangered.

It would require another referendum and a vote of the people to undo Nevada’s law, “a heavy lift for any opposition group,” she said.

However, 26 other states are poised to ban abortions, Harmon said, some through so-called trigger laws implementing a ban immediately if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and others through the legislative process.

“Arizona is actively moving things through the legislature. Utah is very much poised to ban abortion,” Harmon said. “Should that be the case, those patients will definitely be coming to Nevada, to California, to Colorado to seek care,” states where there are fewer or no restrictions.

Nevada already is seeing patients from states that have restricted abortions, said Macy Haverda, president of Wild West Access Fund of Nevada, a nonprofit that offsets abortion costs for women.

These out-of-state patients include women traveling from Texas, which has outlawed abortions after six weeks, she said.

“Emotionally and financially, it just seems incredibly draining when it doesn’t have to be,” she said about the toll on patients.

Holly Welborn, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union Nevada, put it in starker terms.

“There are going to be a lot of people in very desperate situations,” she said. “And it’s important to remember that the end of Roe is not the end of abortion. It’s the end of safe abortion. And so we have to do everything in our power to ensure that people get the proper health care that they need.”

Dr. Harpreet Tsui, a primary care provider in Henderson, said she was in shock after learning of the draft opinion, which is not a final decision.

“This is quite scary, the idea that government can come in between the patient-doctor relationship and almost decide what a woman can or cannot do with her body,” said Tsui, who is with the advocacy group The Committee to Protect Health Care.

“I’m a woman who is an immigrant and raised in this country,” said Tsui, who does not perform abortions. “I never thought that this would be overturned, when you think about how difficult the fight was for the generation above us … to get where we are today.”

The Supreme Court development was welcomed with cautious optimism by the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas.

“The Catholic Church believes in the sacredness of human life, beginning at conception until natural death,” Bishop George Leo Thomas said in a written statement. “We hold that every child, born and unborn, has the right to life.

“However, it is premature to comment definitively on today’s Supreme Court breach. We are hopeful that it is a positive bellwether for the protection of unborn life, but it is prudent to wait until we have something definitive in hand.

“Cautious optimism is the order of the day.”

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