Attorney General Ford Files Brief to Protect Women’s Right to Safe Reproductive Services

August 22, 2019

Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a coalition of 16 states in filing an amicus brief supporting women’s access to safe reproductive health care. The brief was filed in support of a lawsuit brought by Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, which is attempting to open a medication abortion clinic in South Bend, Indiana. The brief argues that states have an interest in protecting the health and safety of residents, which includes promoting access to safe health care.

    “Every woman should have access to safe reproductive services, which is why this case affects Nevada,” said AG Ford. “Standing up for the rights of women is my responsibility as attorney general, and I’m honored to partner with other states to fight for the constitutional rights of Nevada women.”

      The Alliance filed a lawsuit against the Indiana state officials after they denied the Alliance’s application for a license to open a clinic that would provide medication abortions in South Bend. The Alliance then sought a preliminary injunction, arguing the state’s licensing requirements, as applied to the South Bend clinic, are overly vague and unconstitutional. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana entered a preliminary injunction requiring Indiana to allow the Alliance to open the clinic, ruling that the Alliance was likely to prove that the state’s application of the regulatory process in the case was unconstitutional because it placed undue burden on a woman’s ability to choose to have an abortion.

        In their brief, the attorneys general point out that states have a strong interest in ensuring that abortion care, like all health care services, is provided safely. States’ interest in public health is best served when their licensing and regulatory processes are applied to protect the health and safety of patients, rather than to deny women access to safe reproductive services. In the brief, the attorneys general argue that preventing a clinic from operating in an underserved area may cause women to seek abortions from wholly unregulated sources or to undergo more risky procedures because they are forced to delay care.

          Furthermore, the coalition argues, when a state enforces its licensing regulations in a manner that deprives an underserved population of access to abortion care, it increases the public health risk for pregnant women. The coalition also points out that when women are forced to travel to other states to access care due to their home state’s unlawful conduct, it may strain health care systems in those neighboring states. Evidence shows that women from Indiana regularly travel to Chicago to obtain abortions. In short, the coalition argues, the repercussions of Indiana’s actions are not limited to Indiana or the women who live there, making this one of the main factors that gives Nevada a vested interest in the outcome of this case, among others.

            In addition to Nevada, the following states and territory participating in the filing of today’s brief: California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington.

              The brief is filed in Whole Woman’s Health Alliance v. Hill, which is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. A copy of the brief is attached.