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Stories from the KUNR newsroom and regional partners related to the 2022 elections

Nevada AG says abortions largely protected under state constitution, but still at risk

There are two demonstrators in the forefront bottom right. They’re holding signs that read “Abortion is healthcare,” and “Not your body, not your decision.”
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
Demonstrators gathered in support of reproductive rights in front of the Bruce R. Thompson Courthouse and Federal Building in Reno, Nev., on May 3, 2022.

In light of the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion to strike down Roe v. Wade, attention is being turned to what individual states will do. In Nevada, abortion is largely protected by the state constitution.

About 100 people of all ages and genders gathered in front of the federal courthouse in Reno in support of reproductive healthcare, such as access to abortions. Demonstrators echoed feelings of sadness, exhaustion and anger at the potential decision.

“The reason I’m out here is because I was involved in the fight 50 years ago,” Reno resident Kathy Williams said.

Williams said she used to lobby and write editorials in support of Roe v. Wade half a century ago. The Supreme Court decision in 1973 protected the right to an abortion under the U.S Constitution. If overturned, individual states could implement their own regulations, which is why Williams is keeping an eye on local elections.

“We will take it to the ballot box, and anyone who isn’t pro-choice will be subject to being voted out of office, out of primary, out of whatever, so I have now became a single issue activist,” Williams said.

Kathy Williams holds a sign that reads, “One really pissed woman…Meet you at symbol the ballot box.” There are other protesters behind her. One sign that’s visible reads, “My body my choice.”
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
Reno resident Kathy Williams demonstrated in support of reproductive rights in front of the Bruce R. Thompson Courthouse and Federal Building in Reno, Nev., on May 3, 2022.

Many democratic state lawmakers, likeGovernor Steve Sisolak and Nevada’s two senators, are vowing to protect reproductive rights, while some republican primary candidates, including Dean Heller who’s running for governor and Adam Laxalt who’s running for senate, are in support of overturning Roe v. Wade.

In 1990, Nevada voters guaranteed the right to an abortion up to 24 weeks through a ballot referendum. Abortions after that timeframe can be done if a physician says it would preserve the life or health of the pregnant person. It was then codified into state law and can’t be changed unless it goes to the ballot again, but the Supreme Court leak has state officials concerned. Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said Nevada could still be affected.

“A federal ban on abortion could supersede our law, or a future governor's administration or a state legislature hostile to abortion rights could work to find ways to restrict access within the framework that has been approved in the referendum,” Ford said.

Ford said Nevada has already seen immediate impacts, specifically abortion providers are reporting that there are people traveling from other states to receive safe medical care.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member forReport for America, an initiative of theGroundTruth Project.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning journalist covering politics, focusing on democracy and solutions for KUNR Public Radio. Her goal is to provide helpful and informative coverage for everyday Nevadans.
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