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Sisolak reaffirms Nevada abortion rights after SCOTUS ruling

Updated June 24, 2022 - 8:45 pm

On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Friday reaffirmed his commitment to protecting abortion rights and called the court’s decision devastating and dangerous.

Sisolak spoke with U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, Planned Parenthood representatives and abortion-rights advocates at a news conference about the ruling, which ended constitutional protections for abortion and gave the authority to regulate abortions back to the states.

The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half of states across the country, according to The Associated Press.

In the hours following the decision, several states including Missouri, South Dakota and Kentucky had already invoked trigger laws that would ban most abortions.

Abortion rights are enshrined in Nevada state law, but Sisolak said Friday’s ruling would jeopardize the lives and well-being of millions of Americans across the country.

“I want to reassure you … for all women, everyone seeking reproductive health care, I will not stand by and let this outdated idea that women can’t make the right decisions for their own bodies to take over our lives,” Sisolak said at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas.

Nevada law

Nevada allows abortions up to 24 weeks, with exceptions for later in the pregnancy if the health of the mother is threatened.

In 1990, Nevadans overwhelmingly voted to codify the right into state law, ensuring that it could only be changed by another vote of the people.

But a federal ban on abortion would also supersede Nevada’s law, and Sisolak said Friday that other restrictive abortion policies such as mandatory waiting periods or mandated counseling could still be implemented in the state.

“That’s just something that we are vehemently opposed to, and we’ll do everything we can to fight for the rights of women along the way,” Sisolak said.

Friday’s ruling will also likely affect abortion providers in the state.

Planned Parenthood representatives have said that Nevada can expect to see an influx of patients from neighboring states like Arizona, Idaho, Utah and others that are poised to further restrict abortions or ban them outright in the wake of the ruling.

In Arizona, nearly all abortion clinics, including all Planned Parenthood locations in the state, had stopped providing abortions in the wake of the ruling, according to The Arizona Republic.

“Women will die because of this,” Rosen said. “Especially women without access to health care, without access to insurance, without access to the means to go travel for an abortion.”

Sisolak said he wasn’t sure of the state’s capacity for existing doctors and clinics to support patients coming from out of state, but said that the issue was being researched.

Brenda Rodriguez, a 23-year-old mother and an organizer with Battle Born Progress, had an abortion last year after becoming pregnant, six months after giving birth to her son. Rodriguez told her partner she wasn’t financially or mentally ready for another child.

“It was just something that I knew I wasn’t ready for,” Rodriguez said. “I think if I would have been forced to have that child, I would not be here.”

Rodriguez scheduled an appointment at Planned Parenthood to receive a medical abortion, where a patient is prescribed drugs to take at home to induce an abortion. She said she felt blessed to live in a state where abortion care was easy to access.

“I’m really glad that Nevada has laws in place where we can protect abortion care,” she said. “This decision, it has really been a shattering experience for millions of people around the country.”

At the ballot box

Abortion rights have became a top issue in the midterm elections after a draft of the Supreme Court’s opinion leaked in May.

Sisolak, a Democrat running for re-election in the fall, will face off against two-term Republican Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in the Nov. 8 general election.

Sisolak said Friday that Lombardo is the “completely opposite” when it came to the issue of women’s reproductive rights.

“He wants to readdress this. He wants to take us backward,” Sisolak said. “We can’t stand by for extremists like Joe Lombardo and people that are out of touch to try and change the rights that women have.”

Sisolak said that eliminating contraception was on the table for Lombardo. At a Republican gubernatorial primary debate last month, Lombardo, when asked, acknowledged that he would take restrictions on contraception and waiting periods under consideration, but also said he wouldn’t consider any specific abortion restrictions at this time.

“Joe Lombardo has never said he would limit contraceptive access, nor does he have any intention to,” Lombardo spokeswoman Elizabeth Ray said in a statement Friday.

Lombardo called himself pro-life and said he would lead as a pro-life governor.

On Friday, Lombardo said in a statement that he believed most Nevadans want fewer abortions.

“Any legislation or bill or resolution that would come before my desk, I would look at it with a pro-life lens,” Lombardo said during the debate.

Contact Lorraine Longhi at 480-243-4086 or llonghi@reviewjournal.com. Follow her @lolonghi on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Colton Lochhead contributed to this report.

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