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Opponents of Nevada initiatives cheer vote
by Sandra Chereb - Associated Press
Nov 09, 2011 | 666 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CARSON CITY (AP) — Opponents of two proposed ballot initiatives aimed at banning abortions in Nevada hailed the defeat of a similar measure in Mississippi, saying Wednesday it shows even voters in conservative states will reject the effort as too extreme and far-reaching.

“As more voters learned about the unintended consequences of Mississippi’s dangerous initiative, the more they opposed it,” said Elisa Cafferata, president and chief executive of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates in Reno, a coalition that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, Nevada Women’s Lobby, Progressive Leadership of Nevada, and other groups.

But supporters of the proposed initiatives in Nevada say the vote in Mississippi Tuesday has not diverted their efforts.

“It saddens me it didn’t pass,” said Anna Marie Serra-Radford, president of the Personhood Nevada initiative and an anti-abortion advocate in Boulder City. “People just need to be educated.”

Voters in Colorado rejected similar measures in 2008 and 2010.

Civil liberties and other groups say the two Nevada initiatives would limit women’s health care choices. The initiatives have not yet qualified for the ballot.

The proposed Nevada Personhood initiative seeks to add seven words to the state constitution: “The term ‘person’ includes every human being.”

An explanation of its implications says, “The state’s obligation is to protect the inalienable rights of all persons from the beginning of biological development until death without discrimination as to age, health, reproductive method, physical or mental dependency or cognitive ability.”

A second initiative backed by the Nevada Prolife Coalition would amend the constitution to say, “The intentional taking of a prenatal person’s life shall never be allowed in this state.” It defines prenatal person as “every human being at all stages of biological development before birth.”

Legal challenges have been filed against both proposed Nevada initiatives, and hearings could be held next month.

In January 2010, District Judge James Todd Russell in Carson City ruled that a personhood initiative proposed two years ago was too general and vague, would affect constitutional rights to life, due process, equal protection, and search and seizure, and could reshape state criminal law and have many social implications.

Backers appealed Russell’s ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court, but the legal process was delayed and derailed efforts to collect the required 97,000 signatures to place it on the ballot.

Matthew Griffin, a Reno attorney who filed one pending lawsuit on behalf of six women, said the latest initiative doesn’t adequately explain the consequences.

Both proposals fail to inform voters they would lose existing rights to a range of constitutionally protected and legal medical services, including abortion, contraception and treatment for problem pregnancies, the lawsuit said.

It also said the measure might also prohibit embryonic stem cell research.
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