LAS VEGAS — The annual number of abortions in Nevada has decreased by 22 percent since 2010, but lawmakers in this historically pro-abortion rights state appear to have nothing to do with it.
An Associated Press survey found that there were 22 percent fewer abortions in the state in 2013 compared with 2010, accounting for about 1,700 fewer procedures. Those numbers put Nevada among the states with the steepest declines, as data show an overall decrease in abortions of about 12 percent nationwide since 2010.
No obvious theory has emerged on the sinking number in Nevada, where there has been uninterrupted access to abortion for decades.
Some cite the Affordable Care Act increasing financial access to birth control for lowering the number of unintended pregnancies. Others say there has been a societal shift that has led more women to carry pregnancies to term. There is now more acceptance of single mothers and more awareness of the fetus through lifelike sonograms, activists said. The state’s volatile economy may have also played a role, as Nevada’s long-soaring population growth has slowed down in recent years, experts said.
But overall, few local officials were forthcoming about the emotionally charged subject. Officials at state and county health agencies declined to comment.
Meanwhile, others pointed to this latest legislative session as indicative of the state’s position, however quiet. This year, the Republican-controlled Legislature considered the first abortion-related bill in recent memory with AB405, which would have required doctors to notify a girl’s parents before performing an abortion.
Assembly leaders had tried to downgrade it to a study before pushing it through, but it ultimately stalled through the end of the legislative session that adjourned on Monday. The measure failed to garner enough support in the Senate and was never brought up for a vote.
In 2012, there was a failed attempt to get a personhood initiative — a proposed constitutional amendment that sought to define life as beginning at conception and to prohibit some forms of birth control, fertility treatments when selective reduction is used, and embryonic stem cell research— on the ballot. Eric Herzik, a political expert and professor at the University of Nevada-Reno, said the state’s last significant policy discussion on abortion came in 1990, when voters affirmed access to the procedure.
“If you look at the rank-and-file legislator, (or if) you even look at health care providers, this is an issue that a lot of people don’t want to talk about,” Herzik said.