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Abortion parental notification bill clears Nevada Assembly

CARSON CITY — A controversial bill that would require parents to be notified if their child seeks an abortion won approval Friday in the Assembly on a party-line 24-17 vote with Republicans in support.

Assembly Bill 405 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Assemblywoman Heidi Swank, D-Las Vegas, argued against the bill, saying it puts too many roadblocks in the way of “a personal and private choice.”

Assemblyman David Gardner, R-Las Vegas, spoke in support, calling it a parental rights bill. Parents don’t have to give their consent, but do need to be notified, he said.

Pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion activists have squared off over the measure, which would revive a law that requires girls younger than 18 to tell at least one parent before getting an abortion.

Supporters argue it will put ending a pregnancy on par with getting a tattoo or having an ear pierced.

The bill was originally introduced by Speaker John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas. He later announced the bill would not be heard and would instead be the subject of a lawmaker study over the interim before the 2017 session.

But the Assembly Republican Caucus decided to hear the measure, which occurred April 10. It came out of the Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote.

At the hearing, the bill’s backers said parental notification can help ensure children who receive an abortion receive support after the surgical procedure.

Opponents pointed to the chilling effect of any law limiting access, and said the bill would put up barriers and be a government intrusion into the right of a woman seeking an abortion.

Abortion rights activists said the abortion issue has been settled in Nevada for decades, primarily because voters in 1990 approved the Freedom of Choice Act. The ballot initiative upholds a Nevadan’s right to abortion even if the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is overturned. A 1985 parental notification law in Nevada was challenged by Planned Parenthood and a Reno doctor.

The legislation has been reviewed by the Legislative Counsel Bureau, and no constitutional issues were found. AB405 is intended to fix flaws in the current notification law.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801

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