Pro-choice advocates rally for rights at Las Vegas courthouse

Las Vegas Sun by Jessica Hill
May 3, 2022

Shanzeh Aslam thought she had met her prince charming nine years ago. Because she had limited health insurance and didn’t want to take hormonal birth control, she got pregnant. Then her partner became abusive.

She was able to terminate that pregnancy, “leave that horrible relationship, and move on with my life, my career, and I was able to shape my own future.”

“A person’s right to choose, if they are emotionally, mentally, and financially capable of supporting and raising a human being, is not up for debate,” said Aslam, economic justice program manager for Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, in front of a crowd of about 300 people at the Lloyd D. George Courthouse on Tuesday.

Protesters rallied against the Supreme Court’s draft opinion that was leaked Monday, in a report on Politico, that would overturn two landmark cases on abortion access, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Speakers called on federal officials to ensure abortion rights are protected across the country.

“It is a violence against us to take away our right to choose what our futures look like and what we want to do with our bodies,” Aslam said.

Chanting “my body, my choice” and “Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate,” attendees held signs including, “you can’t ban abortion, you can only ban safe ones,” “I trust women to make their own choices” and “we won’t go back,” with a drawing of a clothes hanger.

Representatives from the groups Somos Votantes, Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada, Human Rights Campaign and the Democratic Socialists of America attended, and Democratic U.S. Reps. Steven Horsford, Susie Lee and Dina Titus spoke at the rally in response to the draft Supreme Court decision.

“It is basically saying to us, women, that you don’t know better,” Lee said at the rally, “that we know better than you, and we’re going to set some limits on abortion for you. That is fundamentally what is happening right now.”

Jessica James, a former volunteer with NARAL, a nonprofit pro-choice organization, was at the rally because the issue is very important to her.

“I really don’t want this to turn into Texas,” James said.

Rally attendee Jessica Leonard said she came to protect the rights of herself and others.

“I was pretty pissed off and then I decided to use that energy to put it into something productive,” Leonard said.

Following the leaking of the draft Supreme Court decision, Democratic Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the Senate will vote to codify the right to abortion in federal law. But that is unlikely to happen. Although Democrats control the Senate, they only have 50 seats, and they can’t get the 60-vote supermajority needed to codify the right to abortion.

The leaked Supreme Court opinion is not final, and things could still change. If the court does move forward with its decision, giving control to each state to determine whether or not a person has a right to abortion and under what guidelines, nothing will change for Nevada, at least not anytime soon.

The right to an abortion is part of Nevada’s constitution, and it would take a ballot vote by Nevadans to overturn that.

During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Attorney General Aaron Ford encouraged people to talk with their doctor if they need to access reproductive health services and reemphasized his goals to protect access to abortions.

“Let’s not be complacent,” Ford said. “In fact, instead, we have to be on guard … And we have to fight back efforts to restrict meaningful access to abortion.”