Court: 'Personhood' measure would limit healthcare access, not just abortion

Abortion-rights supporters cheered a Nevada judge's determination Monday that controversial "personhood" proposals would limit women's access to basic healthcare services.

Critics of the personhood approach argue that it goes far beyond abortion, and some social conservatives agree. A judge lent further support to that argument Monday by rewriting a proposed ballot initiative in Nevada.

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Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have both endorsed the personhood movement. Its supporters are trying to get initiatives on the ballot next year in several key swing states, including Nevada, Colorado and Florida. The push has divided anti-abortion advocates and energized groups that support abortion rights.

The Nevada judge said personhood opponents had proven their case about the movement's implications. He rewrote the state's personhood initiative to explicitly reference the ripple effects of passing a personhood amendment to the state constitution.

"The initiative will impact some rights Nevada women currently have to access certain fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization," the rewritten initiative says. "The initiative will impact some rights Nevada women currently have to utilize some forms of birth control, including the 'pill;' and to access certain fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization. The initiative will affect embryonic stem cell research, which offers potential for treating diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and others.”

Personhood advocates believe that life begins at the moment of fertilization. They want to amend state constitutions to reflect that view and guarantee legal protections to all persons.

Opponent of the approach praised the revised initiative in Nevada.

"This misleading initiative could have tricked voters into supporting a measure that would have banned a range of vital health services,” said Dane Claussen, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.

— This post has been updated.

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