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Here's what overturning Roe means for Nevada, where abortion is legal

Supreme Court Abortion
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Demonstrators protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday, May 3, 2022 in Washington.

UPDATE (June 24): The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the constitutional right to an abortion, reversing Roe v. Wade, the court's five-decade-old decision that guaranteed a woman's right to obtain an abortion.

ORIGINAL REPORT: People quickly gathered to protest a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft decision that would overturn a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

After that point, it will be up to individual states to decide to ban or keep a woman’s right to choose.

In Nevada, that right is firmly written into law.

In 1990, voters across the Silver State voted, overwhelmingly, to protect a woman’s right to choose in state statute. So what does the document mean for Nevada?

Amanda Morgan, a professor in the social and behavioral health program at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said it would take another referendum for abortion access to be limited in Nevada.

“I am concerned about the health of women in our country. I am concerned about not only the medical implications of this, but the emotional implications for people. I'm concerned for my students,” she said.

Morgan noted the U.S. is at one of the lowest rates of abortion right now.

Her mother had an illegal abortion in 1966 in Mexico. She had complications, and when she returned, a doctor she visited threatened to have her arrested. She was 21 and her boyfriend was in Vietnam.

“We can look back at the history and see that there have been many women over history who have been very desperate to end their unwanted pregnancies,” she said. “And I do not foresee the removal of legal abortion removing these fears.”

She said it’s important with abortion to look at teen pregnancy rates, which have dropped 50% in the past 10 years, “because of access to affordable contraception, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and also just better access to education on the internet.”

David Orentlicher, a law professor, echoed her worries: “It’s a very troubling decision.”

Beyond teaching law, he’s a physician and lawmaker. He said conservatives are skeptical of unenumerated rights. Roe v. Wade was decided 7-2, but Orentlicher said the court has shifted.

“What is striking about this court is where we're starting to see in landmark decisions, one side, just conservatives imposing their view, all of the decisions,” he said.

According to Fred Lokken at Truckee Meadows Community College, Nevadans “overwhelmingly” support abortion as a right.

“The fact that we have mail-in balloting as well as early validating and day-of voting data of election registration, we have numbers that allow Nevadans in great numbers to be able to participate in their electoral process,” Lokken said. 

Orentlicher predicts a big impact on the voter turnout in November, saying supporters of abortion access will work to preserve that right.

Abortion providers are still open and operating, said Lindsey Harmon with Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada. “If you have an appointment, you can still get in to that appointment.”

Several groups predict up to thousands of women or people with uteruses will travel to Nevada and similarly-protected states for abortion care.

Harmon said they’ve been looking at all the ways they can accommodate those in need.

“We certainly have plans in place. We plan to help every person who needs abortion access in this country," she said. “I can tell you in Nevada, we have seen an increase in patients from Texas already. And we expect that to continue.”

David Orentlicher, director, health law program, UNLV;  Amanda Morgan, associate professor-in-residence, social and behavioral health program, UNLV;  Lindsey Harmon, executive director, Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada;  Fred Lokken, political science department chair; Truckee Meadows Community College

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