News Law and Policy

Nevada Judge Strikes Down Second Egg-as-Person Ballot Initiative in One Week

Jodi Jacobson

A Nevada judge has ruled to immediately dismiss the second of two "egg-as-person" ballot initiatives because he has determined it to be vague and misleading.

A Nevada judge has ruled to immediately dismiss the second of two “egg-as-person” ballot initiatives because he has determined it to be vague and misleading. Earlier this week, District Judge James E. Wilson rewrote a ballot initiative submitted by the Prolife Nevada coalition, because he found that the description of the first initiatives effects did not meet the test of being “straightforward, succinct, and non-argumentative,” and therefore would lead to confusion among voters as to what exactly they were voting to do. Both cases were brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Nevada, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Nevada, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of citizens of Nevada who joined the suit.

The language in this second case is supported by Personhood USA, the group that is promoting ballot initiatives in various states, and which seeks to give fertilized eggs rights that would supercede the rights of women to use contraception, terminate a pregnancy even in cases of life endangerment, receive treatment for life-threatening ectopic pregnancies, choose in vitro fertility treatment, and access life-saving health care such as chemo therapy in cases where said treatment might save the life of the mother, but threaten the fetus.  So-called personhood amendments would also ban abortions in cases of fetal anomalies incompatible with life.

A similar ballot in Nevada was thrown out in 2009 for much the same reasons by a different judge.

After Wednesday’s ruling, Planned Parenthood representative Elisa Cafferata told the Las Vegas Review Journal that “Wilson understood the requirement that voters should know exactly what they would be voting to do.”

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“We are glad the Nevada court sees the sweeping impacts these groups are trying to do,” she said.

LVRJ reports that the decision came after a 45-minute hearing during which Personhood lawyer Gary Kreep repeatedly failed to state the purpose of the petition.

At one point, he said it would prevent “discrimination against the unborn” and at another noted it might stop rationing of health care for senior citizens that could occur under “Obamacare.” He added he would have to “speculate” on the petition’s possible effects.

The language of the Personhood USA and Prolife Nevada ballots have now been rejected three times. Dismissal of the Personhood USA initiative in Nevada leaves the future of such efforts to strip women of their rights in doubt. Personhood USA was, apparently, not pleased with the Judge’s earlier efforts to clarify the outcomes of the Prolife Nevada ballot–I guess if you can’t fool all the people all of the time, what is the point?–and so their next step in  Nevada, if any, remains to be seen.  Meanwhile, they are carrying forward in Arkansas, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Like zombies, efforts to both disrespect and to strip women of their own rights to “personhood” seem never to actually die.

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