NECN.com, June 15, 2012 by AP
CARSON CITY, Nev. — An anti-abortion initiative in Nevada won’t have the required number of signatures to qualify for the November ballot, backers of the effort said Friday.
Personhood Nevada organizers face a Tuesday deadline to collect more than 72,000 signatures to place the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot.
“We had an idea that we may not make it, based on the time we had to collect signatures,” said Anna Maria Serra-Radford, president of Personhood Nevada.
The amendment called “The Right to Live for Young and Old” sought to define life as beginning at conception. It also would have prohibited some forms of birth control, fertility treatments when selective reduction is used and embryonic stem cell research.
It said, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. As used in this section, the word ‘person’ includes every human being from beginning of biological development until death.”
The personhood initiative was one of two anti-abortion measures initially proposed to define when life begins and to stop abortions in Nevada. A group called Nevada Prolife Coalition withdrew its own measure in March to join forces with the personhood group to help gather signatures.
“One of the biggest issues we had to deal with were the delays,” said Chet Gallagher, director of Nevada Prolife Coalition.
“I was hoping to be of greater assistance. Although we’ve gotten a lot of petitions in, it’s not near the mark that I had hoped to assist them.”
Because it was a constitutional amendment, getting on the ballot was only one hurdle. Voters would have had to approve it this year and again in 2014 to become law.
Neither Serra-Radford nor Gallagher would estimate how many signatures had been collected, but both said the number would fall short of the number required to advance to the ballot.
One personhood initiative proposed for this year’s ballot was rejected last fall by a state judge, who said it was vague and misleading.
Three subsequent proposals by Nevada Prolife Coalition were submitted and then withdrawn after legal challenges by the American Civil Liberties Union and Nevada Advocates of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. The coalition then withdrew its fourth measure to concentrate on the Nevada Personhood proposal.
A similar measure in Nevada was denied by the courts two years ago.
But supporters said their efforts have not been wasted and pledged to continue.
“I am excited with the number of profile contacts we’ve made in building our base going forward,” Gallagher said, adding “we will have learned an awful lot in the process.”
“We’ll be keeping this as a database … and just come back again next time.”
The personhood movement has been pressing ballot initiatives in about a dozen states this year.
Voters in Colorado twice rejected similar proposals, in 2008 and 2010, and voters in Mississippi defeated a personhood initiative last November.
In April, the Oklahoma Supreme Court halted an effort to grant personhood rights to human embryos in that state, saying the measure was unconstitutional.