Tuesday, March 20, 2012 | 2:53 p.m.
Organizers of one of two competing anti-abortion petitions decided Tuesday to pull their initiative, hoping to present a united front behind the so-called personhood initiative being circulated for signatures now.
The Nevada Pro-life Coalition, which had tried four times to word a petition that would pass legal muster, withdrew its final proposal, which would have banned abortion in nearly every case, including rape and incest. The petition also could have banned many forms of birth control.
Instead, the coalition members decided to back the more traditionally worded personhood initiative, created by national organizers attempting—so far unsuccessfully—to pass the same law in all 50 states.
“Being united in this labor of love is a winnable strategy and all of us are in it to win it, to get it done together,” said Chet Gallagher, director of the Nevada Prolife Coalition.
The personhood amendment seeks to give due process rights to “every human being from the beginning of biological development until death.”
Two years ago, a Carson City judge blocked a similarly worded petition, finding it to be vague and that it violated the requirement that petitions deal with a single subject. The Personhood Nevada group appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, but the case wasn’t heard in time for the petition to move forward.
Abortion rights advocates had sued three times to halt the Nevada Pro-life Coalition’s petition. But in a tactical move, they decided against suing a fourth time, thinking that voters may be confused by the dueling petitions and mistakenly believing the two anti-abortion groups would decide against cooperating.
Nevada Personhood has until June 19 to gather 72,352 signatures to qualify its petition for the 2012 ballot.
Opponents of the initiative, including the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, are blocked from challenging the petition in court unless it qualifies for the ballot.