AG Laxalt files anti-abortion court briefs despite 1990 referendum

Published: Jun. 13, 2018 at 4:14 PM PDT
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Back in the 1990 election, Question 7 was called "the single most emotional issue Nevada voters must decide in the fall." If passed, Question 7 would leave our state's abortion laws as is, unless there was a vote of the people.

“We knew we had the opportunity by either referendum or initiative to secure our Roe v. Wade which is in our NRS,” says Mylan Hawkins, Question 7 Campaign Coordinator.

Hawkins says they gathered more signatures for the referendum than any other petition in state history to that point. But campaign offices were burglarized and its members faced death threats. Hawkins herself says her car tires were slashed on a nearly daily basis.

Protests both for and against Question 7 were not uncommon.

The anti-abortion campaign contended if passed, Nevada would be the U.S abortion capital. They placed pamphlets on doorsteps in Sparks that showed a picture of a 20-week old aborted fetus. Question 7 proponents spent half a million dollars on the campaign, urging Nevadans to vote yes on 7. Election night, Question 7 passed by 63% of the vote.

“I said, this is over by 8 o'clock; we've won it,” says Hawkins.

An editorial the next day stated, "…the message was so forceful that no one needs to bother asking about it anymore."

But in the past five months, Nevada's Attorney General has filed friend-of-the-court briefs, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a California law requiring crisis pregnancy centers to inform women of their options. In March, another AMICUS brief was filed to an appeals court, asking it to uphold a Texas law outlawing 2nd trimester abortions.

“We pay him to do the work of our state,” says Hawkins.

“You know I'm going to err on the side of life,” says Adam Laxalt.

We talked to Attorney General Laxalt after winning his party's nomination for Nevada governor about his legal filings on behalf of Nevadans. Does Nevada have a dog in that fight does it?

“We are going to have many months to talk about this. The bottom line is my opponents have been very clear in the last many months they are incredibly extreme on abortion. We are going to have plenty of time to have that debate,” says Laxalt.

But you can't change it without a vote of the people.

“We are happy to talk about that in the coming months,” replied Laxalt.

"Are you planning on doing that as governor? Would you propose a referendum for voters to vote on that? Because that is how it has to change in Nevada."

“We are going to look into it,” says Laxalt.

Hawkins says the attorney general is using taxpayer dollars to represent himself. In this case she says his legal action will come to nothing. She is confident if Question 7 were held today there would be no reversal.

“Given the atmosphere of what is going on now, I think it would win it by 80%,” says Hawkins.

While the Nevada Attorney General’s Office sends out releases frequently concerning his legal actions and lawsuits on behalf of Nevada, including and most recently suing opioid manufacturers, no press release was issued announcing his information, expertise or insight in these anti-abortion cases before to the courts.