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Lawsuit filed to block abortion petition initiative from 2024 ballot

A newly created political action committee filed a lawsuit against the Nevada secretary of state seeking to block a ballot initiative that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution rather than just state law.

The Coalition for Parents and Children and its president filed the complaint Thursday afternoon in the First Judicial District Court in Carson City to challenge a petition initiative filed in September that would codify the right to reproductive freedoms in the Nevada constitution.

The ballot measure, which needs 102,000 valid signatures by June 2024 in order to qualify for the ballot in November 2024, seeks to expand Nevada’s 1990 voter referendum that codified abortion protections into state law by also putting those rights in the state constitution. It would ensure that every individual has a right to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, birth control, vasectomy, tubal ligation, management of a miscarriage and infertility care, according to the initiative petition. It would also protect people seeking abortions, those helping them and health care providers from prosecution or penalties.

According to the Coalition for Parents and Children’s political action committee registration form filed Thursday, the committee’s purpose is to advocate for parental rights and the safety and well-being of children.

In its lawsuit, the coalition’s attorney argues a petition initiative must embrace only one subject, but this one embraces a “litany of subjects.” The single-subject requirement “facilitates the initiative process by preventing petition drafters from circulating confusing petitions that address multiple subjects,” the complaint says, citing previous case law.

Vasectomies, for instance, do not relate to infertility care or postpartum care, the plaintiffs argue.

They also argue the petition essentially bars the state from making any investigation of a miscarriage or stillbirth, so if someone assaults a woman and causes her miscarriage, that person could not be prosecuted. The committee also claims that the petition calls for an unfunded mandate, as the Legislature would have to fund the procedures covered by the rights in the petition. They said it’s possible that Nevada’s Health Exchange would have to raise premiums for Nevada’s residents to fund those procedures.

Lindsey Harmon, president of Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom, the coalition behind the ballot initiative, said the lawsuit is a craven attempt to intervene in the democratic process and deny voters the opportunity to make their own choice.

“This is just another step in anti-abortion groups’ nationwide campaign to erase our rights and our ability to make health care decisions without government interference,” Harmon said in a statement.

In addition to jumping through this lawsuit’s hurdle, getting enough signatures and receiving voters’ approval in 2024, the initiative must also receive voter approval again in the 2026 general election before it could make changes to the state constitution.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com.

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