A Nevada judge ruled that a "personhood" amendment petition can not be circulated because it is too vague and violates a state law that limits the ballot measure questions to one subject. The measure in question would have extended due process rights to "everyone possessing a human genome." According to the Associated Press, three plaintiffs represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood challenged the measure in court. Carson City District Court Judge James Russell ruled from the bench after about two hours of arguments. 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 originally 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. Four anti-choice groups released a statement in November 2009 that indicates their opposition to the proposed amendment because it will give more power to the "pro-abortion courts."
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. In addition to failing in Montana, petition drives for similar initiatives ultimately failed in Georgia, Oregon, and Mississippi for the 2008 elections.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 11/23/09; Associated Press 1/8/10, 1/8/10