Nevada Abortion Advocates File Lawsuit to Stop Signatures for Personhood Amdt

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 13, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Nevada Abortion Advocates File Lawsuit to Stop Signatures for Personhood Amdt

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 13
, 2009

Carson City, NV ( — Abortion advocates in Nevada have filed a lawsuit seeking to stop pro-life advocates who want to gather signatures to put a personhood measure on the ballot. Richard Ziser, a longtime pro-life activist in Nevada is launching a signature drive to get the measure on the 2010 and 2012 statewide election ballots.

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood filed lawsuits on Thursday claiming the measure misleads state voters by misrepresenting the outcome if it is approved.

"It utterly fails not only to mention it will ban all abortions– even in the case of rape and incest– that it will prevent much fertility treatment and birth control," Lee Rowland of the ACLU of Nevada told the Reno newspaper.

Rowland told the paper the measure "conflicts with a prior vote of the Nevada electorate and it conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court" and that "voters need to understand what a monumental change they would be making should they vote for this initiative."

Ziser’s measure would add one sentence to the state constitution saying "In the great state of Nevada, the term ‘person’ applies to every human being."

The pro-abortion groups say the five-paragraph description of the measure does not say that the end result would ban abortions.

They also say it would "ban treatment for ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages and infertility, and prohibit stem cell and other biomedical research" and "prevent the use of the common forms of contraception."

Ziser tells the Gazette-Journal that the lawsuit was filed not because the measure’s ballot description is misleading but because they oppose it and want to prevent Nevada voters from getting a chance to vote on it.

"It’s pretty clear that it’s meant to protect the life of the unborn," Ziser said. "The fact they don’t like what it says doesn’t mean it’s not understandable."

Mindy Hsu, a Sparks pharmacist, is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and she doesn’t want to be prevented from giving birth control and contraception to customers.

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

Personhood Nevada will need 97,002 valid signatures on its petitions by August 4 next year and, unlike other states, Nevada requires that state constitutional amendments get two ballot votes instead of just one.

If the measure is approved, pro-abortion groups would file another lawsuit to overturn it and it would likely be overturned in state or federal court.

Also, 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.

Not every pro-life group is on board with the strategy, with some saying that it would be a waste of time and money for what would be a certain loss in the courts and that there are better methods for ending or reducing abortions.

Don Nelson, president of Nevada Life, says money should be put towards education, legislation that has reduced abortions, or electing pro-life candidates who can help change the court so personhood amendments could be upheld.

"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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