A coalition of Nevada organizations filed a petition Thursday to put a question on the ballot in 2024 about enshrining abortion protections in the state constitution—the latest in a string of similar efforts to protect abortion access that so far have all been successful.
The organizations, which included Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, will now have to gather 103,000 signatures from registered voters by June 26, 2024.
The proposed ballot language, which has been obtained by NBC News, says the state “may not penalize, prosecute, or take adverse action against any individual” for obtaining an abortion, or a health care provider for offering one.
Nevada law allows abortion for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but if this ballot language passes, that 24 week limitation would be extended to when the fetus reaches viability—a benchmark that would be determined by physician—and the government would be forbidden from passing any law to restrict that further.
This election would play out in a swing state that has voted Democratic in most of the recent elections, but is seeing increasing division between liberals in the urban centers and conservatives in the rural areas, and saw President Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump by less than 3%.
What To Watch For
If organizers are able to collect the necessary signatures, the question will be placed on the ballot in November 2024’s election. If it receives a simple majority then, it will still require a second vote—Nevada law requires two successful votes to change the constitution—likely in 2026.
This is the latest in a number of efforts to put abortion on a statewide ballot. Every single effort that’s made it to the ballot since the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade and took away the federal right to abortion has backed abortion rights. In August 2022, Kansas voters became the first to make abortion legal in the post-Roe era. There, voters rejected an effort from anti-abortion groups to remove the right to an abortion from the Kansas state constitution. In November 2022’s midterm elections, voters in five different states—Michigan, Montana, Vermont, Kentucky and California—approved attempts to expand, secure or maintain abortion rights. And more are coming to the ballot. In Ohio, a coalition of pro-abortion rights groups similar to those in Nevada, turned in the necessary signatures to place a question on the ballot in November on whether abortion rights should be enshrined into the constitution. A similar effort is underway in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a six-week abortion ban.
While the lengthy legal process to change Nevada’s constitution means it could take several years, putting abortion on the ballot could have implications for other races and referendums in November 2024, as many organizers believe it’s a rallying issue that promotes higher voter turnout. For example, when abortion was on the ballot in Michigan, voter turnout for those aged 18-29 was 37%, which is higher than the national average of 23%, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. Additionally, all three of the democrats up for statewide election—Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson—were re-elected. Organizers who spoke to Time after the election credited the anger voters had over the right to an abortion being rejected for their victories. Additionally, a KFF poll found that 38% of voters in the midterm election nationwide said that the Supreme Court decision to end the constitutional right to an abortion had a major impact on their decision about whether to vote in that election.
Abortion-rights groups in Nevada launch an effort to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot (NBC News)
Ohio Poised To Vote On Abortion Rights After Petition Gathers Over 700,000 Signatures, Pro-Abortion Rights Groups Say (Forbes)
Abortion Rights Supporters Win All 5 State Ballot Measures—Including In Kentucky And Michigan (Forbes)
Most OBGYNs Say Pregnancy-Related Mortality Worsened After Roe V. Wade Was Reversed, Poll Finds (Forbes)
Abortion Remains Legal In Iowa After Judge Blocks 6-Week Abortion Ban (Forbes)