Nevada Activists Launch Personhood Amendment, Not All Pro-Lifers on Board

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 23, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Nevada Activists Launch Personhood Amendment, Not All Pro-Lifers on Board

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 23
, 2009

Carson City, NV ( — Some pro-life advocates in Nevada have launched a bid for a state amendment that would confer personhood status for unborn children. But, not all pro-life groups are on board — not because they oppose personhood but because they say the strategy is one that will waste time and money.

Richard Ziser, a longtime pro-life activist in Nevada is launching a signature drive in order to get enough signatures to place the measure on the state ballot. If he gets enough signatures, the measure would appear on the 2010 and 2012 statewide election ballots.

Ziser has started a group called Personhood Nevada designed to support the measure.

"The whole purpose of the petition is the protection of human rights and civil rights for all humans," he said. "We are talking about the full spectrum of life from the beginning to the end."

He said pro-life groups from across the country would help him raise funds and he may need as much as $1 million for it to be successful, including legal costs associated with defending the measure in court from an expected challenge by the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

Personhood Nevada will need 97,002 valid signatures on its petitions by August 4 next year and with only volunteer petition gatherers, some suggest he won’t reach that mark.

Unlike other states, Nevada requires that state constitutional amendments get two ballot votes instead of just one. Also, abortion advocates can challenge the text of the ballot in court — presenting another hurdle for Ziser.

However, even if voters approve the personhood amendment on the ballot, Legislative Counsel Bureau Brenda Erdoes tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal that it will run up against a 1990 law that put the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in state law.

Also, not every pro-life group is on board.

As is the case in other states, some leading pro-life groups oppose the idea because they say it will only be overturned in court and add to the pro-abortion case law that currently supports the Roe decision.

Don Nelson, president of Nevada Life, says the amendment effort is a waste of time and money that could be going to support education, legislation that has reduced abortions, or electing pro-life candidates who can help change the court.

"Right now, we feel those measures will yield more progress for the pro-life movement," Nelson said. "We would have to pull back from those efforts to get on something like this (petition) that doesn’t promise a lot of return."

"This bill has no chance of ending abortion in America or in Nevada. And the effect of this could add more precedence to supporting Roe v. Wade," he explained.

Nelson also said that the current Supreme Court will overturn the amendment and that the focus needs to be placed on changing what is currently a pro-abortion high court.

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