Las Vegas Sun

July 19, 2019

Currently: 103° — Complete forecast

Nevada abortion bill: Don’t inform pregnant women of emotional impact

CARSON CITY — A packed and sometimes emotionally charged hearing dominated the later part of Monday in Carson City as one of the first abortion-related bills was introduced in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.

The bill, introduced by Democratic Sen. Yvanna Cancela, would remove the word “emotional” from the risks the doctor must explain to a woman before the procedure — instead changing the language to discomforts and risks that may accompany or follow the procedure.

The bill would also redefine “informed consent” to not require the woman to sign on paper — a decision Cancela said in a discussion with Sen. Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, that was made to ensure consent could be given on an iPad, for example.

Many opponents of the bill argued against the informed-consent change over concerns it would remove a safeguard against coercion, a concern that Cancela stressed doctors must be aware of.

“Certainly (consent) is a concern for all doctors, regardless of procedure,” Cancela said.

The bill would also do away with a criminal penalty for anyone who causes an abortion without the advice of a physician.

A main debate topic centered on the removal of the word “emotional” and whether it would be harmful or helpful to those undergoing the procedure.

Studies on the long-term emotional impact of abortion procedures are mixed. The American Psychological Association and Planned Parenthood have both found there is no evidence linking abortion to mental health effects afterward.

One study from the British Journal of Psychiatry did show a link, but the author, Priscilla Coleman, has come under criticism for not creating reproducible results. Her work has been called flawed by multiple researchers.

The bill drew multiple speakers in support and opposition, although an hour and a half recess drastically limited the number of speakers in support, as they left.

Janine Hansen, the state president of Nevada Families for Freedom, opposed the bill and what she called a removal of necessary information. “How can someone make a true choice without real, accurate information?” she said. Other groups, such as Nevada Right to Life, and many individuals also spoke in opposition.

Caroline Mello Roberson, the state director of National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League Pro-Choice Nevada, supported the bill, along with representatives from organizations such as the Nevada State Medical Association and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.

“As outside forces attempt to take Nevada backwards, this legislation will help move Nevada forward,” Roberson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.