Nevada Lawmakers Buck Trend Of Tightening Abortion Laws

Senate Bill 179 aims to remove the criminal penalties associated with terminations in Nevada.

Young women from Paideia High School hold signs during a protest against recently passed abortion ban bills at the Georgia State Capitol building, on May 21, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia
Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

Senate Bill 179 aims to remove the criminal penalties associated with terminations in Nevada.

As social commentary has come to a head regarding tighter abortion laws in several states in the U.S., Nevada is attempting to repeal some restrictive abortion laws. Lawmakers are aiming to revoke laws that see doctors having to record marital status and stress “emotional implications” to women seeking a termination.

While many states are currently tightening abortion laws that see Mississippi, Georgia, and Ohio banning terminations once a fetal heartbeat is detected, Nevada has decided to remove some outdated abortion laws, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Entitled Senate Bill 179, the Trust Nevada Women Act, this bill will now eliminate criminal penalties associated with abortions in that state. In addition, the bill will remove the need to record a woman’s marital status and age.

The bill also aims to remove the criminal penalty for anyone who assists women without a doctor’s consent in obtaining medication that will induce an abortion. The criminal penalty also extends to the use of an instrument to cause abortion “without the advice of a physician,” according to the New Haven Register.

Democrats in the assembly have passed the bill on Tuesday, which was also the “same day protesters across the country decried actions in other statehouses that toughen abortion laws.” This has come from a Legislature that has an overall female majority.

“When the rest of the country may feel hopeless, may feel bleak, they should look to Nevada as the shining beacon that we are for women’s rights,” Democratic Senator Yvanna Cancela told protesters.

Yvanna Cancela also tweeted about the bill, stating that she is “proud to be a Nevadan every day, but especially today.”

Some opposing the new bill voiced their concerns that women would not be able to make an “informed decision” regarding a termination if doctors did not properly tell them of the emotional implications resulting from an abortion. Nevada Right to Life was also concerned that the loosening of laws regarding abortions could see women’s lives being put at risk due to “back alley abortions.”

“There are some significant safety issues, especially when it comes to young girls and women, in [SB179],” said Melissa Clement, spokeswoman for Nevada Right to Life.

“As a woman, I feel like the Nevada Legislature turned its back on me, my daughter, and all women.”

However, Caroline Mello Roberson, state director of NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada, calls the new bill a “victory for women.”

“I think it’s a really big moment of hope, she said.

“I feel that Nevada is a silver beacon out here for those of us that believe in reproductive freedom.”

Senate Bill 179 passed 27-13 with “all 12 Republican Assembly members present voting against the measure,” according to the Las Vegas Sun. This bill has already passed the Nevada Senate in April with a 12-9 vote so it is expected to reach Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak this week. Sisolak is considered to be pro-choice regarding abortion rights and laws.

If Governor Sisolak signs the bill, it will be the first change to Nevada abortion laws since 1973. That year saw legislature changed so that a woman could seek a termination up to 24 weeks. This was then re-affirmed in a 1990 referendum.