Trump-Backed Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo Does Right Thing On Abortion Like Almost Normal Person
Last year, Republican Joe Lombardo narrowly defeated Nevada's incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. This was a cause of some alarm in a post-Roe v. Wade reality. Governors can either actively defend or roll back abortion rights in their states.
Lombardo didn't hide his anti-choice positions during the 2022 gubernatorial campaign. However, he claimed he would support Nevada's existing abortion law, which was passed in 1973 shortly after Roe. The law guarantees the right to an abortion up to a pregnancy's 24th week for any reason — and afterward, if a doctor believes the mother’s life or health is at risk. Nevada voters passed Question 7 in 1990, cementing the law, and it would require another public vote to alter it. (The public, even in deep-red states such as Kansas, tends to support abortion rights when directly asked.)
Most importantly, Lombardo promised that he wouldn't repeal Sisolak's executive order protecting women from prosecution for seeking an abortion in Nevada. Once in office, the former Clark County sheriff has more than kept his word. Tuesday, he signed a measure that codifies the executive order into law.
Lombardo’s signature on the bill marks the first significant stance he has taken on abortion access after his position on abortion shifted throughout the election cycle. Previously, Lombardo had signaled he would sign the measure as long as it was a “clean bill” that only focused on preventing state agencies from cooperating with other states wanting to prosecute someone for receiving reproductive care in Nevada.
Republican-controlled states such as South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida have passed six-week abortion bans that are in direct contradiction to voter sentiment about abortion access. However, if you vote for Republicans in gerrymandered districts, you're enabling them to ignore everyone but their electorate's most far-right voices.
Denying citizens the freedoms and bodily autonomy they'd prefer to keep for themselves leads to the obvious situation where people travel to the closest state where abortion is safe and legal. Republicans who apparently hadn't thought this far ahead were suddenly scrambling to pass fugitive uterus laws.
Last July, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada sponsored the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act, which as Doktor Zoom reported "would have prohibited individuals or government officials from preventing or punishing travel across state lines 'to receive or provide reproductive health care that is legal in that State,' and would also made it illegal for states to pass laws prohibiting travel outside their state to get an abortion." Idaho, which borders Nevada, passed a deranged "abortion trafficking" law in April.
Senate Republicans blocked the bill (well done, filibuster!) and their arguments against the fundamental American right to interstate travel were uniquely grotesque. Here's a face-punching rant from Montana's Sen. Steve Daines:
"This bill would give fly-in abortionists free rein to commit abortions on demand up to the moment of birth. [...] This bill also protects the greed, frankly, of woke corporations who see it’s cheaper to pay for an abortion, an abortion tourism, than maternity leave for their employees."
Not even the evil corporation from Severance would actually mandate that an employee terminate their pregnancy. These supposed "woke corporations" are just helping employees exercise their own individual choice. Besides, Republicans aren't exactly known for their longterm support of paid family leave. This is all about controlling pregnant bodies. Anti-choice zealots will now find that harder to do in Nevada.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, who sponsored the legislation, thanked Lombardo "for following through on his commitment to ensuring that Nevada won’t participate in prosecutions of women who come here to exercise their reproductive rights."
This probably ends any higher political aspirations Lombardo might've had as a Republican, but we're glad the former sheriff upheld a reasonable law.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."