NV Supreme Court to Hear Personhood Initiative Challenge
The Nevada state Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a case that seeks to overturn a lower court ruling and place a so-called "personhood" amendment on the fall ballot. The measure in question would extend due process rights to "everyone possessing a human genome." According to the Associated Press, the court has fast tracked the case so that there will be a ruling before the May 18 deadline for initiatives to qualify for the fall ballot.
Three plaintiffs represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood first challenged the measure in district court. Carson City District Court Judge James Russell ruled in January that the "personhood" amendment petition could not be circulated because it is too vague and violates a state law that limits the ballot measure questions to one subject. At the time, he said, "the issue to me is, are we adequately informing voters on what they're voting on," according to the Associated Press.
Conservative group Personhood Nevada filed the ballot initiative with the secretary of state's office, in October 2009. Petitioners would have needed to obtain 97,002 valid signatures to have placed the measure on the 2010 ballot. Personhood Nevada made the current appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Abortion opponents have pushed these so-called "personhood initiatives" in several states. These measures declare that a fertilized egg is a "person" who enjoys "inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of the law." The laws would threaten not only abortion itself, but IUDs, emergency contraception, in vitro fertilization clinics, and stem cell research. In the 2008 elections, Colorado's Amendment 48, failed by 73 to 27 percent. Colorado and Mississippi will have personhood measures on their ballots in the upcoming midterm elections.
Media Resources: Associated Press 4/6/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 1/8/10, 3/29/10, 4/5/10