Nevada judge nixes pro-abortion initiative petition: Nevadans for Reproductive Rights expected to appeal to state Supreme Court

By Dave Andrusko

In a decision handed down November 21, Judge James T. Russell concluded that a proposed ballot initiative that would have embedded abortion in the Nevada constitution is too broad, contains a “misleading description of effect” and has an unfunded mandate.

“This is probably the clearest case I have seen that I think there is a violation of the single-subject rule,” Russell said, according to KOLO-TV Reno. “I’ve seen a lot of them over the years and in respect to this particular matter, there are too many subjects. Not all of which are functionally related to each other.”

Writing for the Associated Press Gabe Stern explained the background to Judge Russell’s decision:

The political action committee Nevadans for Reproductive Rights filed the petition to enshrine reproduction rights in the constitution with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office on Sept. 14.

On Oct. 5, the Coalition for Parents and Children PAC filed a complaint with the court challenging the petition’s legality. If allowed to proceed, Nevadans for Reproductive Rights would need just over 100,000 signatures to get the issue on the ballot.

Asked about a possible appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, Nevadans for Reproductive Rights attorney Bradley Schrager said the group is “considering its options.”

Lindsay Harmon, president of Nevadans for Reproductive Rights, said the group “will not let one judge’s misguided ruling deter us from giving Nevadans the opportunity to vote to permanently protect their reproductive rights in the Nevada Constitution,” according to Stern.

“Jason Guinasso, an attorney for the Coalition for Parents and Children PAC, said he was happy with the ruling but expected the other side to appeal.”

To amend the constitution, it “requires either approval from two legislative sessions and an election, or two consecutive elections with a simple majority of votes,” Terri Russell reported for KOLO-TV Reno.

The two sides sparred at a November 11 hearing. Guinasso told Judge Russell that the petition “doesn’t just mention reproductive rights, but abortion, birth control, prenatal care, and post-partum care. Not only that, Guinasso said the petition as written protects those who provide that care as well as those who facilitate that care,” according to KOLO-TV.

Guinasso called it “log rolling” where the petition may address a topic the voter is interested in, then adds other subjects the voter may not know about. He also said the petition, if it ultimately became part of the constitution, would be an unfunded mandate, costing taxpayers here in Nevada.

If the pro-abortion group wins its appeal to the state Supreme Court, and if the initiative petition gains enough signatures—over 100,000 by June—it will appear as a question on the statewide Nevada ballot in November of 2024.