December 2, 2014 — Antiabortion-rights activists in Nevada will pursue a parental involvement bill during the 2015 state legislative session, although it is unclear if such a measure would pass or be signed into law by the governor, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
As a result of last month's election, Republicans will control the state Assembly with 25 seats, compared with Democrats' 17 seats, and the state Senate by 11 seats to 10 seats.
A 1985 Nevada law required girls under age 18 to notify at least one parent before an abortion. However, the law is not enforced as the result of a successful legal challenge. The law also allowed girls who could not tell their parents about an abortion to seek judicial approval instead, although the process was inadequate and difficult, according to people familiar with the legal challenge.
Prospects of Parental Involvement Legislation
Nevada Right to Life President Melissa Clement said a parental notification measure is one of the group's "highest priorities." She added, "We've always played defense because there ha[ve]n't been enough (anti-abortion) lawmakers in the [state] Legislature to get anything done. Now, we can play offense again."
State Assembly member Maggie Carlton (D), a supporter of abortion rights, predicted that the state Assembly likely would pass such a bill if it came to a vote but that its fate in the state Senate would be less certain. According to the Review-Journal, at least one Republican state senator, Becky Harris, has expressed support for legal abortion.
Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood President and CEO Elisa Cafferata expressed skepticism that the state Legislature would pass any measures that restrict abortion rights, noting that she "didn't see anybody running" on abortion restrictions and that many Republicans during the election emphasized their support for health care access for women. However, she noted that other state legislatures have passed abortion restrictions.
Meanwhile, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) supported a parental notification law during his first gubernatorial campaign in 2010. Mari St. Martin, a spokesperson for the governor, said the governor's decision on any potential bill would depend on its provisions. She added that Sandoval "typically does not comment on proposed or pending legislation" and would "carefully review" any measure prior to making a decision.
Contraception Access Bill Planned
In related news, Carlton said she intends to introduce legislation called the Employee Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act to protect women's access to contraception.
The planned legislation is a response to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, which allowed some for-profit companies to exclude contraceptive coverage from their employer-sponsored health plans based on their owners' religious objections (Myers, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 11/30).