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The principal pre-Roe statutes prohibited performance of an abortion on a pregnant woman unless the procedure was “necessary to preserve her life or that of the child,”1 and made a woman’s participation in her own abortion after quickening a criminal offense (subject to the same exception).2  An attorney general opinion ruled that the statutes were unconstitutional under Roe to the extent that they prohibited most first and second trimester abortions.3  The substantive provisions of these statutes were repealed in 1973 and replaced with provisions conforming to the requirements of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.4  The substance of the pre-Roe provisions would not be revived by a decision overruling Roe v. Wade.  Abortions could be performed for any reason before the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy, and for virtually any reason thereafter.5


1 Nev. Rev. Stat. § 201.120 (1967).

2 Id. § 200.220. No prosecutions were reported under this statute.

3 See Op. Nev. Att’y Gen. (Feb. 2, 1973).

4 1973 Nev. Stat. 1637, 1639-40, ch. 766, §§ 7, 8.

5 Nevada allows abortions to be performed after the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy to prevent grave impairment of the pregnant woman’s physical or mental health.  See Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 442.250 (Michie 2000).  As the experience in California demonstrated, mental health exceptions were widely abused.  See People v. Barksdale, 503 P.2d 257, 265 (Cal. 1972) (noting that more than 60,000 abortions were reported in 1970, more than 98% of which were performed for alleged reasons of mental health).


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May be reprinted without permission but with attribution to the Life Legal Defense Fund.