Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nevada's Personhood Petition.

The same conservative activist who worked to amend the Nevada Constitution to state that marriage consists of one man and one woman is now hoping to do the same with the Personhood Constitutional Amendment in 2010 and 2012.

Richard Ziser, a former US Senatorial candidate, was approached by "socially conservative and religious organizations" to organize the petition, including Crisis Pregnancy Center, the Christian Action Council, and the Catholic American Life League. They will be responsible for raising the estimated $1 million necessary to pay volunteers to get petition signatures.

What will a Personhood amendment achieve?

A 1990 voter-approved law puts the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision permitting abortion into Nevada statutes. The law cannot be changed without a vote of Nevadans, according to Legislative Counsel Brenda Erodes. And even if the state law were changed, it wouldn’t override the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, she said.

Also, members of Congress have repeatedly stated that the health care reform legislation they are considering makes no provision for encouraging any kind of assisted suicide. Nevada has no law allowing assisted suicide that Ziser's petition would affect, and the petition would not override any federal law.

That's right. The Personhood Petition will do nothing to change Nevada law. Why is Ziser willing to spend $1 million on an amendment that will change nothing? And what do reproductive rights groups think?

Ziser’s Personhood Nevada organization opposes abortion, but that is not the sole thrust of the petition, he said.

“The whole purpose of the petition is the protection of human rights and civil rights for all humans,” he said. “We are talking about the full spectrum of life from the beginning to the end.”

He noted that the petition gets its “life, liberty and property” language out of the Declaration of Independence.

Elisa Maser, president and chief executive officer of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates, the lobbying and political arm of Planned Parenthood in Nevada that advocates for reproductive rights, compared the initiative to a similar effort in Colorado in 2008.

That personhood initiative lost by a 3-to-1 margin, she said.

“It puts government, lawyers and the courts in the middle of our personal lives,” Maser said.

The article closes with Ziser's unfounded assessment that young Americans oppose abortion more now than they did 20 years ago, because he says, they post sonogram pictures.

He said he believes that fewer Nevadans support abortion rights today than 20 years ago.

Young people are more anti-abortion and aware that life begins at the moment of conception, he said.

He noted that young adults now often hang sonogram pictures of their children taken in the womb, an indication that they know life begins long before birth.

“I saw one in a real estate office yesterday,” Ziser said.

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