Nevada Personhood Amendment Backers Fail to Get Signatures for Abortion Vote

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 11, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Nevada Personhood Amendment Backers Fail to Get Signatures for Abortion Vote

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 11
, 2010

Carson City, NV ( — Nevada is the latest state where supporters of a personhood amendment failed to get enough signatures to qualify their ballot effort for a vote. Supporters had been fighting a court ruling saying the amendment should not appear before voters on the November ballot.

Backers needed to obtain 97,002 signatures to put the issue before voters but Keith Mason of Personhood USA said didn’t get a chance to collect signatures before the deadline.

"We are committed to coming back to Nevada," Mason told the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper. "We are building support for 2012."

Mason claimed internal poling showed Nevada voters would support the amendment at the polls if they had a chance to vote on it even though 63 percent of Nevada voters in 1990 passed a ballot amendment supporting abortion.

Abortion advocates in Nevada filed a lawsuit seeking to stop pro-life advocates from gathering petitions and Mason blamed them for the inability to secure signatures by the deadline to qualify for the ballot.

In January, a judge said the language was too broad and violated a state law saying ballot measures can’t cover more than one subject. Amendment supported hoped the Nevada Supreme Court would overturn the ruling.

The amendment does not specifically mention abortion, but says its intent is to codify "the inalienable right to life for everyone, young or old, healthy or ill, conscious or unconscious, born or unborn."

"In the great state of Nevada, the term ‘person’ applies to every human being," the one-sentence amendment reads.

Carson City District Court Judge James Russell issued the ruling siding with the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. The pro-abortion groups say the five-paragraph description of the measure does not say that the end result would ban abortions.

"The issue to me is, are we adequately informing voters on what they’re voting on," Russell said in his ruling. "There’s no way for the voter to understand the effects of the initiative."

Had the ballot measure qualified even pro-life advocates said it faced monumental hurdles.

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 in the state was 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, said 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 [amendment] 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.

A similar lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood against Colorado’s Personhood Amendment in 2008, but the lawsuit failed. Although the Colorado amendment was longer, it was found to be a single subject issue and allowed to proceed.

Colorado was also the first and only state to have voted on a personhood amendment following the new movement for them. That amendment died on a lopsided vote at the polls, losing 73-27 percent.

Voters in Colorado will vote on the amendment again this year and Mississippi voters will do so as well. But Missouri amendment backers failed to get enough signatures to qualify their proposal.


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