Nevada judge rewrites ‘misleading’ personhood ballot initiative
A Nevada state judge on Monday rewrote a fetal personhood ballot measure after ruling it was misleading because the measure did not explain the full extent it would have on Nevada law.
The ballot measure, proposed by the Nevada Prolife Coalition, seeks to add an amendment to Nevada’s constitution that would prohibit the intentional taking of prenatal life “at all stages of biological development before birth.” The amendment would ban all abortions, even in cases of incest or rape.
A description of the amendment, which accompanies the measure, states: “All persons are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights and among these is the right to life. Guaranteeing personhood for the prenatal human being has the effect of making illegal intentional acts which kill such persons, including elective, surgical and/or chemical abortion and fetal homocide.”
But the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Nevada and Planned Parenthood Federation claimed the amendment would do more than just outlaw abortion. They claimed the amendment would also affect common birth control methods, the treatment of ectopic pregnancy, in vitro fertilization treatment, and stem cell research.
The judge agreed (PDF) with their assessment and rewrote the ballot initiative’s description to reflect that.
“The initiative would protect a prenatal person regardless of whether or not the prenatal person would live, grow, or develop in the womb or survive birth; prevent all abortions even in the case of rape, incest, or serious threats to the woman’s health or life, or when a woman is suffering from a miscarriage, or as an emergency treatment for an ectopic pregnancy,” the new description states. It also notes that the amendment would prohibit hormonal birth control, in vitro fertilization and stem cell research.
“This misleading initiative could have tricked voters into supporting a measure that would have banned a range of vital health services,” said Dane S. Claussen, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada. “We’re relieved that the court refused to allow proponents to deceive voters in this manner.”
Mississippi voters rejected a similar personhood amendment in November. The amendments are being pushed by Personhood USA, a Colorado-based Christian organization. The group hopes to get more personhood proposals placed on several more state ballots next year.