Las Vegas Sun

October 19, 2019

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Guest column:

Nevada not the place for personhood initiative

In 1990, Nevadans overwhelmingly passed a referendum protecting a woman’s right to choose. This pro-choice view among Nevadans has remained unshakable ever since.

Before that watershed vote in 1990, some political observers thought such a referendum would have difficulty passing in Nevada, as they believed the state was too conservative politically. That, however, was a serious misreading of the values that Nevadans hold dear.

The fact of the matter is that Nevadans historically have made it clear that they do not want government intrusion in their personal lives. The government has no business interfering with a woman’s right to choose — it is inherently a personal decision, and should remain so.

Nonetheless, there is a move by anti-choice groups across the nation, including in Nevada, to undermine reproductive rights through the initiative process. So-called personhood initiatives would eliminate access to abortion — including in the cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in danger. Such initiatives would also outlaw many types of birth control such as morning-after pills and IUDs.

Recently, voters in Mississippi rejected a “personhood” initiative, believing this effort to take away personal freedom goes too far. But, this isn’t just about Mississippi; proponents of the amendment are working to gather signatures in Nevada with the hope of getting this on the ballot here.

This isn’t only an issue at the state level — it has entered the presidential campaign as well, as Republican Mitt Romney has injected himself into the debate. In October, Fox News Channel’s Mike Huckabee, the former Republican presidential candidate, asked Romney: “Would you have supported the constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception?” Romney’s reply: “Absolutely.”

In an interview this past week in the Las Vegas Sun, the Romney campaign reaffirmed his out-of-touch views on this issue. “Mitt Romney is pro-life, and as he has said previously, he is supportive of efforts to ensure recognition that life begins at conception,” his spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, told the Sun.

This anti-choice agenda is completely different from what we were hearing from Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts, when he said: “Let me make this very clear: I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.” It’s hard to get a more ironclad statement than that. As with so many other issues with Romney, he has demonstrated he will do whatever he thinks will benefit him best politically at the moment.

Today, as he attempts to court the Tea Party wing that is controlling the Republican Party, Romney is tilting to the far right, hoping to win their votes and secure the Republican presidential nomination — and that means being the “anti-choice” candidate who also seeks to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that protects a woman’s right to choose.

Nevadans have spoken clearly, Mr. Romney. Stay out of our bedrooms and our personal lives. Honor our state’s rights and respect our values and our freedom to decide for ourselves.

Sheila Leslie, a Democrat, represents Washoe-District 1 in the state Senate.

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