Four conservative organizations blasted the latest effort to
promote zygote civil rights through a 2010 Nevada state ballot measure setting
up yet another schism between the local and national anti-choice movements.
In a statement that could only charitably be summed up as
"We’ve got things under control here. Butt out." Nevada Life, the
Nevada Eagle Forum and Nevada Families issued a statement that the
personhood petition language is "so vague
and general that it may not even apply to abortion at all."
The trio was joined by the Nevada
Independent American Party, a political group formally affiliated with the
Christian paleoconservative Constitution Party. The latter of which has
attracted the likes of radical, absolutist anti-choice activists Matt Trewhella
and perennial political candidate Alan Keyes among other hard-liners.
Don Nelson of Nebraska Life complained, "This bill has no chance of ending abortion in America
or in Nevada. And the effect of this could add more precedence to supporting
Roe v. Wade."
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The ultra-conservative stand off could pit tens of thousands
of ideologically-driven Nevadans against one another at the ballot box next
Membership figures were not available for the anti-choice
groups but the Nevada IAP boasts 49,000 registered voters and reportedly
employs five lobbyists to represent its interests in the state legislature.
The surprise announcement, at least figuratively, joins the
groups on the side of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union
of Nevada which filed a Nov. 12 lawsuit to block the petition process.
Similar to an unsuccessful Colorado Supreme Court lawsuit
intended to halt the first ever 2008 personhood state ballot measure, Planned
Parenthood and the ACLU argue that the Nevada petition violates the single
subject rule and is misleading to voters.
"It utterly fails not only to mention
it will ban all abortions — even in the case of rape and incest — that it
will prevent much fertility treatment and birth control, but that it conflicts
with a prior vote of the Nevada electorate and it conflicts with the U.S.
Supreme Court," said Lee Rowland of the ACLU of Nevada. "Voters need
to understand what a monumental change they would be making should they vote
for this initiative."
Predictably, Personhood Nevada backer Richard Ziser, a
colorful character in state politics and wielding a Masters Degree in Christian
Apologetics, fired back.
He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that since the
plaintiffs understood what his measure intended voters would too.
A hearing has not yet been set by the Carson City district
Unlike Colorado’s ballot supporters who were overwhelmingly
rejected 73-27 by voters, Ziser is no political neophyte.
In 2000, Ziser successfully headed a state initiative to
define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Though local
politicos grumbled the measure was simply designed to boost Ziser’s future
ambitions, he was resoundingly defeated 60-30 in his 2004 bid for U.S. Senate
against democratic incumbent and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The recently
launched multi-state personhood movement, with the backing of well-heeled
national groups with millions of dollars at their disposal, signals his
But there’s still quite an uphill climb.
Besides the legal hoops, Nevada has a unique ballot
structure that requires two successive votes to change the state constitution.
According to the Las Vegas Sun: Ziser needs the signatures
of 97,002 voters to qualify for the 2010 election ballot. And if passed, the
ballot measure would have to be approved again by the voters in 2012.
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