Circulation of reproductive rights petition could start October 5

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 4:19 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Dobbs Decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court is a little more than a year old. The decision placed abortion policies and practices back in the hands of the states.

Here in Nevada a 1990 Referendum froze Nevada abortions laws as they were. And only a vote of the people could dramatically change that.

In the 2023 Legislative Session Senate Joint Resolution Seven passed along party lines. It proposes to place reproductive rights into the state constitution. But that must happen again in 2025. And then it would appear on the ballot for Nevada voters to decide.

Abortion rights advocates decided they needed a backup plan.

“It is entirely possible,” says Caroline Mello Roberson with Reproductive Freedom for All Nevada about the abolishment of abortion rights in Nevada. “They even started the congressional session last January with discussion about a total abortion ban. And even with states like ours where it is state protected access to abortion; would be subjected to federal law and could be affect by that.”

Enter a petition initiative to put reproductive rights on the ballot in 2024.

Filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, signature gatherers could be on the street as soon at October 5th. Organizers from Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada, Reproductive Freedom for All Nevada, and the ACLU must collect approximately 103,000 signatures from all four of Nevada’s Congressional Districts by June.

If those who sign the petition are registered voters, the initiative will turn into a question on the November 2024 Ballot.

“Nevada is the most staunch supporter of abortion in the United States today,” says Professor Fred Lokken, with Truckee Meadows Community College Political Science Department. “80% of our residents in surveys indicate the support for a woman’s right to choose. Her right to privacy. Her right to an abortion. That is a phenomenal distinction for the state of Nevada. This is one of the factors that is contributing to knowing that they have a high confidence level. That they will get the petition through, and they will get this on the ballot.”

Lokken says a petition initiative is the most popular and successful way to change the constitution here in Nevada.

If the “Reproductive Freedom” question passes in 2024, it will be up for a vote again in 2026 as passage is required twice for an amendment to the Nevada constitution. Even the sponsor of SJR 7 gives her blessing for the measure.

Lokken predicts this will be the number one issue in Nevada and it will all take place during a Presidential Election year.

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