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Nevada Law Removing Abortion Restrictions Passes State Assembly

People rally in support of abortion rights on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
John Locher
People rally in support of abortion rights on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

While states like Alabama, Missouri and Georgia are grabbing the spotlight for their new laws restricting access to abortion, Nevada is moving in the opposite direction. The state Assembly on Tuesday passed a law removing some requirements that had been in place for decades.

The measure repeals a requirement that women seeking an abortion be told about the "physical and emotional implications" of having the procedure. It decriminalizes supplying a woman with medication to induce an abortion without the advice of a doctor. And it removes a requirement that a physician determine the woman's age and marital status before performing an abortion.

"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 Sen. Yvanna Cancela told supporters of the bill outside the Nevada legislature before the vote, The Associated Press reported. The Nevada Assembly is the country's first majority-female state legislature.

The billpassed 27-13 on a mostly party-line vote. All but one Democrat voted in favor, while every Republican voted against the measure. Republican lawmakers argued Tuesday that the law doesn't do enough to ensure the age of the woman seeking an abortion.

"Without the provision requiring a physician to ask the age of a patient, we may be missing clear red flags of abuse and trafficking," Republican Assemblywoman Jill Tolles said, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

The bill now goes back to the state Senate — which had already passed a similar version — before going to the desk of Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, who supports abortion rights.

In its move toward relaxing abortion restrictions, Nevada is bucking a national trend in the other direction. Just this month, Georgia passed legislation banning abortion once a heartbeat can be detected, which typically occurs about six weeks into pregnancy. Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Dakota have similar laws on the books, most of which were passed in 2019. Several more states are also considering heartbeat-based restrictions. And in what's considered the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S., Alabama last week passed a law banning nearly all abortions.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Matthew S. Schwartz is a reporter with NPR's news desk. Before coming to NPR, Schwartz worked as a reporter for Washington, DC, member station WAMU, where he won the national Edward R. Murrow award for feature reporting in large market radio. Previously, Schwartz worked as a technology reporter covering the intricacies of Internet regulation. In a past life, Schwartz was a Washington telecom lawyer. He got his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and his B.A. from the University of Michigan ("Go Blue!").