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GOP Senate candidates share their views on abortion rules

Updated April 16, 2024 - 10:43 am

Most of the Republican candidates running for Senate in Nevada say that while they are pro-life, they would not support national restrictions on abortion that go against state protections.

Nevada Democrats campaigned heavily on the abortion issue in 2022 — a tactic that seemed to work and secure them major victories — and the 2024 election cycle is no different. Democrats are criticizing Republican candidates for their messaging on abortion and say their opponents would support national restrictions on abortion, an issue that is widely popular in the Silver State, where voters decided in a 1990 referendum to protect access in the state statute.

A March poll from Noble Predictive Insights on how Nevadans feel about potential ballot questions in 2024 revealed access to abortion is still very much popular, with 68 percent of respondents in favor of a potential ballot question that would amend the state’s constitution to protect the right to an abortion. Democrats and independents were overwhelmingly in favor of the measure, and nearly half of the Republicans who were surveyed also support it.

Even former President Donald Trump warned of the political repercussions the abortion issue could cause. On Monday, he posted to Truth Social that terminating Roe v. Wade was a “great event,” but Republicans like Lindsey Graham who are pushing national restrictions “are handing Democrats their dream of the House, Senate, and perhaps even the Presidency.”

“We cannot let our Country suffer any further damage by losing Elections on an issue that should always have been decided by the States, and now will be!” Trump said on his social media.

On Wednesday, the former president said he would not sign a national abortion ban if it passed Congress, demonstrating a shift in his dialogue. In his Monday statement, it was unclear how far he’d take his stance that abortion should be decided by the states.

Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen, a staunch pro-choice advocate, faces a tough re-election battle in November. First, however, a large field of candidates are competing for the Republican nomination.

The Review-Journal asked GOP Senate candidates where they stand on abortion, if they would support any sort of national restriction, and if they would support national protections for in vitro fertilization.

Sam Brown

Sam Brown, the likely GOP Senate nominee, said he and his wife Amy have been clear on their stance on abortion. He and his wife recently did an NBC News interview, where she told her own story of getting an abortion in 2008.

“We are pro-life, with the exceptions for incest, rape, and the life of the mother,” he said. “I have also been very clear that abortion law is a states’ rights issue, so I do not support a federal abortion ban.”

Brown said he strongly supports the availability of IVF but also believes that its regulation is a states’ right issue.

During the last election cycle when Brown ran for Senate against Adam Laxalt, Brown said during a debate that as the issue currently stands, it would be left up to the states. He said he is pro-life, and if federal legislation were to come forward, he’d want to see “that specific language.” In a voter guide in 2022, he had said he “always will stand on the side of protecting life,” and will continue to protect life by “voting against any federal funding of abortion and by voting to confirm justices who protect life.”

Tony Grady

Tony Grady, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, said he is “unashamedly pro-life” and believes the U.S. should do everything possible to prevent abortions from happening.

“However, I’m glad this issue is being discussed where it belongs — in state governments across the country,” he said. “Each state has intricacies they need to work out on their own without the federal government.”

Grady also added that Democrats used to believe abortion should be “safe, legal and rare,” but now believe abortion should be allowed “up until birth.” Other Republican candidates have echoed similar concerns, including Trump.

Abortions late in a pregnancy are uncommon. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly all abortions in 2021 took place early in gestation. Only 0.9 percent of abortions were performed at greater than 21 weeks of gestation.

Regarding IVF, Grady said that nothing in Nevada has changed, and IVF is still legal and easy to access.

“It should stay that way and anyone who says it’s under attack is fear mongering for political gain,” he said. “I will support life and IVF access in Nevada.”

Jim Marchant

Former Assemblyman Jim Marchant, however, said he would support a national abortion restriction.

“I join more than 80 percent of Americans who believe the Federal government has a role in ending late-term Abortion,” he said.

Jeff Gunter

Dr. Jeff Gunter, former U.S. ambassador to Iceland under the Trump administration, did not return a completed questionnaire to the Review-Journal. Another candidate, Gary Marinch, could not be reached for comment.

Gunter, a dermatologist, said in 2023 on X that he does not support a national ban on abortion. After Ohioans voted to pass abortion protections, Gunter said that total abortion bans with no exceptions only lead to more Democrat wins.

“As a doctor, who has dedicated my life to my patients, I’ve never believed it’s good policy — and the vast majority of Americans agree,” he said on X.

R. Garn Mabey Jr., a Las Vegas obstetrician-gynecologist and former state assemblyman, said that he deals with the issue of abortion regularly but has never performed one.

“My personal belief is that abortion can be appropriate in the case of rape or incest, when the fetus has no chance of life after birth, or the life of the mother is endangered,” he said. He added that he supports Nevada’s law that allows abortion up to 24 weeks and will continue to support that law if elected. He would not support any law that allows for late-term abortions, and he would vote in favor of federal action to protect IVF treatments.

“Abortion is a procedure which can have severe psychological and medical consequences. Serious efforts should be made to reduce unwanted pregnancies,” he said.

Stephanie Phillips, a real estate broker, said she doesn’t think a vote on a national restriction is going to come up.

“The Supreme Court was right to give this decision back to the states,” she said. “I don’t believe this belongs in the hands of the federal government to decide, but rather it belongs in the hands of We The People to decide.”

Ronda Kennedy, an attorney living in Las Vegas, said that until the U.S. Supreme Court hears the matter again, it is up to the states. She does not support using tax dollars to fund abortion clinics, but she would support a study to be completed to determine what she says is a disproportionate number of minority babies being aborted and why abortion campaigns are targeted toward low-income and minority communities.

Barry Lindemann, an asset manager, said he would not cast a federal vote that is incongruent with Nevada’s current law.

“I am not here to argue with the majority of Nevadans but to uphold their wishes,” he said.

Lindemann said IVF is not at risk and therefore needs no federal action.

Bill Conrad, retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, and Eddie Hamilton, a longtime political candidate who lives in Henderson, both said they would support some national restriction to abortion.

“I am pro-life and believe in protecting the sanctity of unborn life,” Conrad said. “I view abortion as taking an innocent human life and advocate for alternatives like adoption while supporting pregnant women in challenging situations.”

Hamilton said he would introduce legislation to fund medical research that would allow a fetus to survive “all the way into birth outside the womb, as early as 4 weeks.” He said he would seek federal protection for IVF access.

Vincent Rego, a driver who lives in Las Vegas, said women should have access to abortion if their own life requires it, and the decisions on whether to abort should be left to doctors. Victims of sexual assaults should also have access to abortion up to a certain amount of weeks, he said.

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

Correction: An earlier version of this report misstated Ronda Kennedy’s occupation.

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