Updated April 20, 2023 - 8:16 pm
CARSON CITY — Physician-assisted suicide is a step closer to being legal in Nevada after senators voted on a razor-thin margin to pass a resolution Wednesday.
Lawmakers voted 11-10 to advance Senate Bill 239, with all Republicans voting against the measure, with Democratic state Sens. Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas, and James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas.
If approved by the Assembly and signed by Gov. Joe Lombardo, the bill would allow terminally ill patients over the age of 18 with less than six months to live to end their lives with lethal drugs prescribed by a medical practitioner.
Senators also voted 15-6 to pass Senate Bill 131, a bill that would bar state agencies from providing resources or information to help out-of-state authorities from prosecuting individuals who receive an abortion in Nevada.
Senate Democrats, joined by Senate Minority Leader Heidi Seevers Gansert, R-Reno, and Sen. Carrie Buck, R-Henderson, voted to approve the measure. If passed, the bill would codify an executive order issued by former Gov. Steve Sisolak days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
“When I look at this legislation, the current executive order and given the hodgepodge of laws across the U.S., the one thing that jumps off the page to me is women who face these difficult choices, we need to give them our support and our prayers, but we don’t need to give them jail time,” Seevers Gansert said.
The vote comes two days after the Senate voted to advance a resolution seeking to guarantee abortion rights through an amendment to the state Constitution. Senators voted on party lines to send Senate Joint Resolution 7 to the Assembly on Monday.
Senators also approved a bill that would allow health care providers to prescribe, dispense or administer contraceptive drugs or devices to minors without consent from the minor’s parent or guardian.
Senate Bill 172 passed on a vote of 14-7, with Seevers Gansert as the only Republican voting in support. Her colleague, Republican Sen. Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, strongly opposed the measure.
“People in our public schools can’t give a pupil an aspirin, but here we’re going to have people going behind their parents’ backs and getting medications that could have substantial health risks to that child,” Hansen said. “Do we really want to remove parents from this decision-making process?”
But Sen. Dallas Harris, D-Las Vegas, the bill’s primary sponsor pushed back during her closing remarks on the floor.
“It makes zero sense to allow a minor to get treated for something but not allow them to try and get prevention on the front end,” Harris said.
State senators also voted 13-8 on party lines to approve Senate Bill 215, which would require any local government that accepted state money to buy voting machines to return those funds if the jurisdiction decides to not use them and instead conduct an election only by paper ballot.
Lawmakers also voted 18-3 to advance a measure requiring Clark and Washoe counties to include a “heat mitigation element” in their master development plans. Sens. Hansen, Robin Titus, R-Wellington, and Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, voted against that bill.