Sisolak signs order protecting those seeking abortion

Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an executive order June 28 implementing protections for anyone seeking or providing abortion services or other reproductive health care within the Silver State. 

The order arrives after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion last week and seeks to provide refuge for those seeking such services. It also addresses the adoption of laws by other states that have imposed civil or criminal liability for those who seek abortions.

Provisions within the executive order stipulate:

• No executive department or employee can offer information or use resources to help another state looking to prosecute or impose civil or criminal liability for someone who received reproductive health care services.

• State boards and commissions that oversee health care professionals cannot disqualify or discipline them based on the laws of another state for services related to reproductive health care.

• The governor’s office will refuse any request from another state to issue a warrant for the arrest or surrender of someone charged with a criminal violation of another state’s law if the violation involves reproductive health care services.

The order defines reproductive health care as services that “include all medical, surgical, counseling or referral services relating to the human reproductive system. This includes, but isn’t limited to, services relating to pregnancy, contraception and the termination of pregnancy.”

Nevada, along with 15 other states and the District of Columbia, has laws that protect the right to abortion. Protections for abortion access in Nevada arrived through the state’s referendum process when nearly two-thirds of Nevada voters approved the ballot measure codifying state law allowing for abortions within 24 weeks of pregnancy — a process that cannot be changed by anything other than another ballot initiative.

As of Friday, abortion is illegal in seven states — Alabama, Arkansas, South Dakota, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri and Oklahoma — except in circumstances necessary to save the life of a pregnant person. In West Virginia and Wisconsin, abortion bans implemented before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision are on the books, but it is unclear whether they are enforceable. 

Sisolak’s executive order follows the governors of California, Oregon and Washington announcing a “West Coast offensive” on Friday to ensure access to abortion and contraception as well as protect providers and patients from the legal grasp of other states.