Lawmakers hear arguments for rewritten pregnancy bill
Associated Press Writer
A Nevada Assembly committee heard Tuesday that there’s still opposition to a rewritten bill that targets drunken drivers who cause pregnant women to miscarry.
SB299, sponsored by Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, sparked an abortion debate when it was heard in the Senate because it referred to unborn children. Hardy said help from Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, resulted in revised language and allowed the bill to pass the Senate.
The revised bill now adds pregnant women to laws that protect vulnerable people and makes it a felony when someone causes the termination of someone else’s pregnancy when driving under the influence.
“This is very delicately crafted language to keep us out of the pro-life debate,” Hardy told the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada opposed the new version of the bill, saying it would violate the Nevada Constitution by not differentiating between stages of pregnancy.
“This gives fetuses civil liberties that are not in concert with our rights to choice. … It clearly it is akin to the state recognizing a separate legal entity,” said Lee Rowland of the Nevada ACLU.
In 1990, Nevada voters by a 63-37 percent margin said that future changes in the state’s abortion laws should be decided by a public vote rather than by the state Legislature. The Nevada referendum preserved a state law that permits abortions by a doctor within the first 24 weeks of a pregnancy. After that, abortions can be performed only to protect the life or health of the mother.
Dave Vidimos of Nevada LIFE, an anti-abortion organization, argued for reinstating the original version of SB299.
“The way the bill is written right now completely misses the target. As these families cry out, they want recognition of their child. The way this bill is written, what is a pregnancy? It seems to be talking about a vague bodily function of a woman,” Vidimos said, adding later the current version is nevertheless an “advance.”
Mylan Hawkins, a longtime advocate of women’s rights, argued against the bill’s creation of special classes of people, and pushed for stricter enforcement of current laws on DUI.
“The law needs to protect each of us, period, regardless of our age, sex, race, state of pregnancy, or our state of vulnerability. It must protect us all. If it doesn’t, it fails us all,” Hawkins said.
Hardy introduced the legislation on behalf of a woman in his district who was hit by a drunken driver when she was pregnant, injuring her and causing a miscarriage.
A preliminary hearings for the driver is scheduled for today, according to the woman’s mother, Donna Saling, who argued for the bill’s approval at Tuesday’s hearing.