Nevada Judge Rules Dangerous Personhood Ballot Initiative is Misleading

Court Finds That Initiative Seeks to Ban All Abortions, Common Forms of Birth Control, Treatment for Complicated Pregnancies and Some Infertility Treatments

LAS VEGAS – A Nevada state judge today rewrote a misleading ballot initiative to make clear it is designed to ban all abortions and other vital women’s health services by granting legal protections to fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses. The initiative was originally worded in such vague and misleading terms that it failed to make clear the far-reaching the effects the initiative would have on Nevada law.

The initiative was proposed by the Nevada Prolife Coalition. The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Nevada and Planned Parenthood Federation of America challenged the initiative and another similar measure on behalf of a group of registered Nevada voters.

“This misleading initiative could have tricked voters into supporting a measure that would have banned a range of vital health services,” said Dane S. Claussen, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada. “We’re relieved that the court refused to allow proponents to deceive voters in this manner."

Similar initiatives have twice been rejected by voters in Colorado (in 2008 and 2010) and most recently this past November in Mississippi.

“Nevadans deserve to know that this initiative seeks to outlaw women’s health services like abortion, the birth control pill and treatment for complicated pregnancies, just to name a few,” said Elisa Cafferata, president & CEO of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “Nearly 20 years ago Nevada voters affirmed the tenets of Roe vs. Wade and a woman’s right to privacy. Nevadans do not support interfering in women’s personal and private decision making.”

Nevada District Court Judge James E. Wilson stated in his decision: “The court has found the petitioners have established that if the initiative passes it will affect various areas including common birth control methods, the treatment of ectopic pregnancy, invitro fertilization treatment and stem cell research.”

“The proponents of this initiative were trying to hide the ball,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “They know that, across the country, voters have repeatedly rejected measures that would interfere with a woman’s ability to make her own health care decisions.”

Additional Resources

- Read Judge Wilson’s decision, including the rewritten ballot initiative

- Additional information on this case