Initiative Seeks To Interfere With Women's Private Health Care Decisions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Elisa Maser, Nevada Advocates of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, (775) 762-6141, emaser@nevadaadvocates.org
    Lee Rowland, ACLU of Nevada, (775) 786-1033 (Reno), rowland@aclunv.org;
    Maggie McLetchie, ACLU of Nevada, (702) 366-1902 (Las Vegas), mcletchie@aclunv.org
    Lorraine Kenny, ACLU, (917) 532-1623 (cell), lkenny@aclu.org
    Christie Petrone, PPFA, 212-261-4433, Christie.Petrone@ppfa.org

CARSON CITY, NV – An individual woman, a pharmacist and an obstetrician-gynecologist today asked the court to block the "Personhood Nevada" petition, an attempt to pass an initiative which seeks to ban a range of reproductive health services. The Initiative proposes far reaching changes to the Nevada Constitution and laws, is misleading and fails to give voters a clear understanding of the changes it proposes and its purpose and effect, the plaintiffs' lawyers said.

"Supporters of the so-called 'Personhood Initiative' intend this provision to eliminate a woman's right to make personal, private health care decisions," said Emmily Bristol, one of the plaintiffs. "We need to preserve a woman's right to make decisions about her reproductive health with her doctor and family without governmental interference."

The Initiative attempts to re-define the term "person" to include a fertilized egg and all subsequent stages of prenatal development. According to the Initiative's proponents, the newly defined "persons" would have full constitutional rights under the Nevada Constitution.

The Initiative seeks to ban all abortions and commonly used forms of birth control. It could also interfere with doctors' ability to treat life-threatening pregnancies, miscarriages, and infertility, as well as ban some stem cell research and other life-saving therapies and cures. In addition, the Initiative seeks to reach far beyond health care. As today's legal papers warn, the Initiative fails to explain to voters its intent and impact on Nevada law.

"The Initiative is so broad, it could impact literally thousands of laws," said Lee Rowland, one of the attorneys for plaintiffs. "If proponents have their way, it would invite lawyers and the courts to reinterpret every Nevada law and regulation that contains the word "person," clogging up the court system at the expense of Nevada taxpayers."

Today's lawsuit, Bristol v. Personhood Nevada, asks the court to prevent this sweeping and misleading Initiative from being placed on the 2010 ballot.

Plaintiffs in today's legal challenge include Emmily Bristol, Dr. Mindy Hsu, and Dr. William Ramos. Lawyers on the case include John Griffin and Jason Woodbury, Kaempfer Crowell Renshaw Gronauer & Fiorentino in Carson City, Lee Rowland and Maggie McLetchie of the ACLU of Nevada, Mimi Liu, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Diana Kasdan, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

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