Lawsuit Challenges Proposed Nev. 'Personhood' Initiative

February 2, 2012 — A lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Carson City, Nev., challenges a "personhood" ballot initiative that seeks to ban abortions in the state, the AP/Columbus Republic reports.

The initiative -- backed by the Nevada Prolife Coalition -- would amend the state constitution to guarantee rights to all humans beginning at fertilization, thereby banning birth control, embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization or other procedures that intentionally terminate a fetus. The amendment would not make exceptions for rape or incest.

The lawsuit argues that the initiative is confusing and does not adequately inform voters of the measure's ramifications for birth control and other medical procedures(AP/Columbus Republic, 1/31).

District Judge James Wilson rewrote an earlier personhood amendment pushed by the coalition to clarify that the measure would restrict access to not only abortion but also other reproductive health services. Wilson ruled that the group could not start collecting signatures to place the amendment on the November 2012 ballot unless it contained an adequate "description of effect" -- a statement required under Nevada law to inform voters of the initiative's ramifications (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/20/11). The coalition objected to the judge's rewording and withdrew the measure (AP/Columbus Republic, 1/31).