May 3, 2022
Carson City, NV
General Aaron D. Ford released a transcript of the remarks he gave to the press
regarding his office’s position on the recently leaked draft opinion by the
Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for 49 years. Because of Roe v.
Wade, generations of women have been able to access safe, legal medical care
and make decisions about their bodies and their futures. We do not know if the
draft opinion leaked yesterday will be the opinion that’s actual issued by the
Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed, however, that the the
document is authentic, but he’s also said that it does not represent a “decision
by the Court.”
What we do know is what we have always known, is that the very existence
of Roe v. Wade as precedent is at stake. The right to an abortion, and a
constitutional guarantee of privacy and bodily autonomy, has been under
sustained attack for decades, and this decision, if made official, will
dismantle the nationwide guarantee to that right. These ongoing attacks are
exactly why I have joined numerous amicus briefs protecting abortion rights. We
cannot, and will not, stop fighting for this right. Our office joined an amicus
brief in this very case -- Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization –
regarding an abortion ban in Mississippi.
If the Supreme Court does issue an opinion like the one that has been
reported in the news, it means that Roe v. Wade is overturned and there is no
federal constitutional right to an abortion. It means that states will have the
ability to determine whether or how to regulate abortions under their state
Here in Nevada, overturning Roe would not be felt immediately. Voters in
Nevada guaranteed a right to a legal abortion until 24 weeks of pregnancy by
referendum in 1990.
This law, codified in NRS 442.250, cannot be changed or repealed in
Nevada unless voters pass a referendum to change or repeal it.
Let me be crystal clear to any Nevadan who is listening to this message:
If you need reproductive health services, make that appointment with your
doctor. We will protect your right to make decisions with your doctor about
what is best for your health, your family and your future.
This does not mean that we should not be concerned. Indeed, there are
those who would say that any focus on access to abortion care in Nevada if Roe
v. Wade is overturned is nothing but “gaslighting.” But they’re simply trying
to lull other Nevadans into complacency. For example, a federal ban on abortion
could supersede our law. Or a future governor’s administration and/or state
legislature hostile to abortion rights could work to find ways to restrict
access within the framework approved in the referendum.
There are, in fact, some congresspersons and senators to this day working
to pass a national law affecting the right an abortion. We’d be naïve to
believe that certain folks here in Nevada aren’t likewise looking for ways to
undermine the right, our laws notwithstanding. So, again, let’s not be
In fact, instead we have to be on guard against any attempts to make
Nevada’s right to an abortion a right only on paper and fight back efforts to
restrict meaningful access to abortion.
Some states are following in our footsteps to codify abortion rights into
law. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced he will push for a
constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights. In other states, things look
different. Millions of women could lose their rights. Some states could
entirely ban abortions in any and all circumstances. That means that there
would be no constitutional right to an abortion in those states, even before
viability. No right to an abortion in a case of rape. No right to an abortion
if a woman’s life is at risk. No right to an abortion if there is a fetal death
in the womb.
In Missouri earlier this year, a bill was proposed that would have banned
abortions in the case of ectopic pregnancies. To be clear – ectopic pregnancies
are never viable and often fatal for the patient. Though that language was
removed after public backlash, it’s an extremely concerning example of where
these laws could take us.
None of this is an exaggeration. Thirteen states have already passed
“trigger laws” that would automatically ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is
overturned. Nine states have abortion
bans that are currently blocked by court order but could take effect if Roe is
overturned. Many of these laws have very few or no exceptions for the safety of
the woman, fetal death in the womb or rape.
Even though Nevada law protects the right to a legal abortion, these bans
will affect Nevada. It already is happening. Once Texas passed its six-week
abortion ‘bounty’ ban, we started hearing reports from abortion providers here
that people were traveling from other states so that they could receive legal,
professional and safe medical care.
This is exactly why I joined amicus briefs in cases where abortion rights
are at risk in other states – because banning safe and legal abortions in other
states will affect Nevada’s health care system.
What we will not do is punish people for coming to Nevada to seek medical
care. We will not work against people in the midst of one of the most
vulnerable times of their life.
We do not know what this draft decision means for other constitutional
rights that rely on the constitutional rights to privacy, bodily autonomy and
personal liberty that have been so critical to the prior decisions on this
The draft opinion states that it is limited to abortion, but it heavily
emphasizes that Roe should be overturned because abortion is not explicitly
addressed in the Constitution.
Many of our most basic constitutional rights are not explicitly mentioned
in the Constitution. They are rather implicit, part of the bundle of rights
protected by the Constitution’s guarantees of privacy, personal liberty, equal protection
and due process.
For example, we do not know how this decision could be used in future
cases that address the right to access birth control. The case that allowed
unmarried women the right to access birth control was decided just one year
before Roe v. Wade and relied on a similar understanding of Constitutional
We do not know how this decision could affect legal access to
reproductive technology, such as IVF. We do not know how this decision could
affect the right to same-sex marriage or even interracial marriage. So many
SCOTUS decisions, such as Texas v. Lawrence, Obergefell v. Hodges, Griswold v.
Connecticut, Loving v. Virginia – all of these cases rely on the constitutional
right to substantive due process.
The constitutional right to be free from the government’s undue
restrictions on how adults can live their private lives and determine the
course of their own futures. That liberty, the power to make choices about your
own family is exactly what is at stake. I believe this is why Nevada voters in
almost every county approved the 1990 referendum that guarantees abortion
rights. Without Roe v. Wade’s protections against undue burdens on the right to
an abortion, Nevada’s law could be at risk for new laws that make it difficult
for women to exercise their rights.
We also must work to expand access to health care services. You can’t
exercise your right to see a doctor if there is no doctor or you can’t afford
to get health care.
This is not limited to abortion services. As a state, we have so much
work to do to improve access to contraception and prenatal care, as well as
address maternal mortality and domestic violence, which is a leading cause of
death for pregnant women.
My office will continue to play our part, fighting back attacks on
abortion rights, rights to birth control access, and rights for LGBTQ people –
all of these core constitutional rights that have been targeted by the same
forces advocating for the end of Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to
bodily autonomy. For example, my office led an amicus effort against the Trump
Administration’s Title X Rule, which resulted in a massive decline of family
planning services, prenatal care, and preventive health services for low-income
My office also joined an effort to fight the Trump Administration’s
attempt to allow health insurance companies to deny coverage for birth control.
As your Attorney General, I will continue to use the weight of this
office to defend your constitutional rights and our state laws that guarantee