Personhood petition survives court challenge
The so-called “personhood” petition survived it’s first court test Monday – but with amendments supporters didn’t want.
The proposed constitutional amendment would ban the taking of any person’s life from the moment of conception.
While Carson District Judge James Wilson agreed with the Nevada Prolife Coalition – that the amendment does meet requirements of Nevada’s single subject law – he said the description of what the amendment would do does not adequately explain the impact that change would have.
“The test is whether the initiative provisions fit within a single subject,” he wrote. “Prolife’s initiative, if passed, will have many different effects. But all of those effects will fit within a single subject, prohibiting the intentional taking of prenatal life.”
Wilson however said the explanation of those effects must be amended.
“The court has found the petitioners have established that, if the initiative passes, it will affect various areas including common birth control methods,” the ruling states.
Opponents presented an affidavit from Dr. Anna Themis Contromitros saying the amendment would effectively ban birth control pills, cause difficulties with treatment of tubal pregnancies, in vitro fertilization and stem cell research.
“An initiative’s summary need not be the best possible statement of a proposed measure’s intent, but it must be straightforward, succinct and non-argumentative,” he wrote.
Wilson ordered Prolife to amend its summary to include an explanation of those impacts.
His summary statement says the amendment would “make it unlawful to intentionally kill a prenatal person by any means.”
“The term ‘prenatal person’ includes every human being from the moment an egg is fertililzed by a sperm and at all stages of development from that time until birth,” Wilson’s amendment summary states. “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 initiative will impact some rights Nevada women currently have to utilize some forms of birth control including the pill and to access certain fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization.”
Wilson’s statement concludes that the initiative also would affect stem cell research. None of that information was in the Prolife group’s original summary.
The ruling, however, allows the group to move forward and begin collecting signatures to try get the question on the November 2012 ballot. To do so, it must collect 72,352 signatures of registered Nevada voters – 18,088 in each of the state’s newly-created congressional districts – and submit them to the Secretary of State’s office by June 19.