Judge Rejects 'Personhood' Petition in Nev.

December 22, 2011 — Nevada District Judge James Wilson on Wednesday issued an injunction barring Personhood Nevada from collecting signatures toward a proposed "personhood" ballot initiative to outlaw abortion, the AP/Columbus Republic reports. Wilson said the wording of the measure was "excessively broad." The proposal sought to amend the state constitution to read, "The term 'person' includes every human being."

On Monday, Wilson rewrote a separate personhood ballot initiative by the Nevada Prolife Coalition to make it clear that the measure would restrict access to reproductive health services other than abortion. After incorporating Wilson's changes, NPC is permitted to move forward with collecting signatures to place its measure on the November 2012 ballot.

At Wednesday's hearing, Wilson questioned Personhood Nevada attorney Gary Kreep about language saying that the state has an obligation to protect the inalienable rights of "all persons from the beginning of biological development" and that "some human beings are being deprived of their civil rights."

While Personhood Nevada argued that measure is not intended to target abortion, Wilson said that court documents suggest otherwise. He said in his ruling, "If the purpose is to establish when a human life begins, then it ought to say that in the text and it doesn't" (Chereb, AP/Columbus Republic, 12/21). Wilson said he anticipates the decision will be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court (Ryan, Las Vegas Sun, 12/21).

The measure's opponents -- including the American Civil Liberties Union and Nevada Advocates of Planned Parenthood Affiliates -- argued that it violates the state's "single subject" rule for initiatives and would restrict some forms of birth control, in vitro fertilization and embryonic stem cell research. ACLU attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas said the measure could affect "virtually all laws" that include the word person, adding, "There's no way to even discern what the purpose of the initiative is."

Kreep said Personhood Nevada would await Wilson's written order before deciding whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court (AP/Columbus Republic, 12/21).