LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Just months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a new state senate bill seeks to protect reproductive health care access for anyone who looks for it in Nevada, regardless of where they actually live.
Critics say much of its text must be changed before — and if — it ever is accepted.
Senate Bill 131 (SB131) was introduced during the ongoing legislative session, with the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor revisiting the proposed legislation Monday morning.
If passed, the bill would prevent retaliation against medical providers that perform abortions in Nevada on patients who do not live there. It simultaneously puts restrictions on the governor and other state entities when asked to extradite these patients back home or assist in out-of-state investigations regarding this care.
While the legislature spoke in-person in Carson City Monday morning, Southern Nevadans had the opportunity to listen and participate from the Grant Sawyer State Building in Las Vegas.
Maria-Teresa Libermann-Parragua was one of the Las Vegas participants. She’s deputy director for Battle Born Progress, a self-proclaimed progressive nonprofit that supports SB131.
“We have neighbor states that are going backwards,” Libermann-Parragua said outside the videoconference room Monday morning. “It is not enough to simply promise that you’re not going to prosecute, that you’re not going to participate in another state’s prosecuting. We need to have something in the books.”
If passed, health care licensing boards would be prohibited from withholding a license from a provider or disciplining that person for providing reproductive health care, like abortions, to out-of-state patients.
“Once it’s law, it’s much harder to go against the law, and it is much harder to have someone that may come into power or is in power do something that’s not right for the people who want to choose over their own bodies,” Libermann-Parragua said.
To her, SB131 means protections for patients and providers. To others, it means restrictions that prevent the government from doing its job.
Kelly Quinn, a former Nevada and Clark County health regulator, joined in the hearing from Las Vegas Monday morning.
“It’s restricting too much for the boards, the governor and the agencies,” Quinn said outside the videoconference room Monday morning.
Quinn points to the proposal’s prohibition on the governor from extraditing out-of-state patients back to their home state if criminally wanted there for receiving reproductive health services, like abortion. This is true, “unless the acts forming the basis of the prosecution of the crime charged would constitute a criminal offense under the laws of the State of Nevada.”
Quinn believes the bill must make certain definitions better, as “reproductive health care services” is currently defined as “medical, surgical, counseling or referral services relating to the human reproductive system, including, without limitation, services relating to pregnancy, contraception, the termination of pregnancy or any procedure or care found by a competent medical professional to be appropriate based upon the wishes of a patient and in accordance with the laws of this state.”
“It could include surgical gender modification,” Quinn said. “It could potentially set up the swap meet practitioners to provide these services, and an investigator can’t even pose the question as to what’s going on?”
Additionally, critics voiced concern during public comment about how the bill’s wording could contribute to the prevalence of human trafficking statewide.
“A sex trafficker, say, could bring their minor children to Nevada, who have gotten pregnant, and they can come here posing as a parent. But, you can’t ask the question if they are or not, and have certain procedures done, and then they’re right back into the sex trafficking industry,” Quinn said.
The hearing ended Monday morning after questions to primary sponsor and Nevada Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, who denies the human trafficking concern.
“There is nothing about this that shields anyone who is committing child abuse or who is sex trafficking from being prosecuted for those crimes,” Cannizzaro said in Carson City. “It just says, if the only reason for your denial of a license or revoking of a license is because they provided reproductive care, and you just don’t like reproductive care, that’s not the law in the state of Nevada, so, that can’t be the only basis.”
Gov. Joe Lombardo refers to himself as pro-life on his website, but ensures he will continue to keep contraceptives accessible in the state. He has not yet commented publicly on this bill.
Monday’s hearing can be viewed at: https://sg001-harmony.sliq.net/00324/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20230220/-1/?fk=10612&viewmode=1