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Lombardo changes stance on abortion executive order

Updated September 29, 2022 - 12:21 pm

Clark County Sheriff and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Joe Lombardo has changed his stance on whether to repeal an executive order protecting women from being prosecuted for seeking an abortion in Nevada, with less than two months to go until the Nov. 8 election.

He published a note on his campaign website Wednesday that outlined where he stands on abortion and what sort of actions he would take as governor. At least one of those stances is different from what he said just a couple of weeks ago.

Previously, Lombardo said he would look to repeal Gov. Steve Sisolak’s executive order that protects out-of-state patients seeking reproductive health care in Nevada, which Sisolak signed in June after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

In the note on his website, Lombardo wrote that months ago he said he would evaluate repealing that executive order that he believed “at the time and continue to believe was nothing more than political theater.”

“Steve Sisolak is addicted to executive orders both to protect his power and score political points. I simply do not believe executive orders are meant to be permanent or should be used as a campaign tactic,” Lombardo wrote.

“However, because there are efforts in other states that could impact Nevadans, I have made a commitment not to repeal that executive order until the Legislature can make clear that Nevada is not going to prosecute women who seek an abortion or medical providers that perform legal abortions,” Lombardo wrote.

Less than two weeks ago, he told a Review-Journal reporter that he would consider repealing Sisolak’s executive order, calling it “political theater.”

At former Attorney General and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Laxalt’s annual Basque Fry on Aug. 13, Lombardo told a potential voter in reference to Sisolak’s executive order that “we can repeal that right away.” The potential voter asked, “So you’re going to do that?” Lombardo replied, “yes,” according to audio that was provided to the Review-Journal.

On Aug. 11 in an interview with KRNV, when asked if he would repeal Sisolak’s executive order, Lombardo said, “I don’t know if it’s codified in law and there needs to be a repeal on that, but if it’s a position, the way it’s written in the law, yeah absolutely.”

He also previously stated that he would look at any abortion-related legislation on his desk “through a pro-life lens.”

Lombardo’s campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Ray said the change came after Alabama’s attorney general announced those who assist in out-of-state abortions could be prosecuted under Alabama’s conspiracy and accessory laws.

Other candidates’ positions

Lombardo is one of many Republicans in the state and across the country to walk a fine line on where they stand with abortion. With many polls showing abortion as a top issue for voters — and with the majority of Nevadans supporting at least some instances of abortion — Republicans have had to backtrack the views they proclaimed during their primaries.

Republican Congressional District 1 candidate Mark Robertson, for instance, changed his website to make it clear that he would not support federal legislation on abortion and deleted some sentences about abortion. Other anti-abortion Republicans, running in November, including Lombardo, have also said that they would not support a federal abortion ban, staying firm in their argument that abortion laws should be left up to the states.

Lombardo said in the note that he cannot control what other states do, but “can continue to make it clear that we are not going to prosecute women for having an abortion in Nevada. Period.”

He also said that he will not help with any other state’s investigation of an individual who came to Nevada to participate in any activity that is legal in Nevada but not legal in their state of residence.

“What is legal in Nevada is legal here, regardless of the law in any other state. We wouldn’t prosecute Utah residents that come to Nevada to gamble, even though gambling of any kind in Utah is illegal, and we won’t prosecute women from another state that seek a legal abortion in Nevada,” Lombardo wrote.

In response to Lombardo’s latest statement, Sisolak’s campaign spokesperson Reeves Oyster said in a statement, “Joe Lombardo knows that his extreme anti-abortion agenda — like supporting a ban on abortion and contraceptives — is out-of-touch with Nevadans and this ‘note’ is yet another desperate attempt to rewrite history. This is the same tired playbook of trying to run from what he said in the primary and Nevada voters can see right through it.”

No ban on contraceptives

Democrats have attacked Lombardo for supporting a ban on contraceptives, but Lombardo’s campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Ray has previously said multiple times that Lombardo does not support banning contraception. Lombardo repeated that stand in the note posted on his website Wednesday: “As I have said repeatedly, I support access to contraceptives in Nevada,” it reads. “I do not support any further restrictions on access to contraceptives, nor would I support a ban on contraceptives in Nevada.”

The confusion about Lombardo’s stance on contraception stems from a an 8NewsNow debate before the Republican primary when a moderator asked Lombardo if he would “support perhaps adding parental notification laws, waiting periods before ending a pregnancy or other restrictions maybe like on the Plan B pills.” Lombardo said, “Yes, absolutely. I would take that under consideration.” It was not clear which of those things Lombardo was supporting.

With the note published Wednesday, Lombardo said he hopes to clear up any confusion. “Like most Nevadans, I am a strong supporter of parental notification, and I believe the health and safety of minors is a critical component of any health care policy,” he said.

“Not everyone will agree with my position, and I respect that reasonable people can disagree on public policy. Nevada voters spoke 30 years ago, and public sentiment remains the same — so Nevada law is settled and can only be changed by a vote of the people. No politician can change abortion law,” Lombardo wrote.

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Contact Jessica Hill at jehill_reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

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