The Associated Press
Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010 | 11:29 a.m.
A group seeking to change the Nevada Constitution to define "personhood" as beginning at conception is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling blocking their initiative petition.
"This is a civil rights initiative, by and for the people of Nevada," Personhood Nevada organization president Olaf Vancura declared Tuesday.
"The subject is a clarification of the meaning of the word 'person,'" he said. "We're hoping the Nevada Supreme Court does the right thing."
Vancura said he believed Carson City District Court Judge James Russell erred in a Jan. 8 ruling that sided with lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood.
The appeal to the state's only appellate court was filed Friday, said a clerk with the court in Carson City.
ACLU lawyer Lee Rowland vowed to argue for upholding Russell's ruling. She said she believed the real intent of the Personhood Nevada measure was "to grant constitutional rights to fertilized eggs."
Rowland said the initiative would have "a wide range of possible effects" on abortion rights, contraception and infertility treatments, but proponents failed to include those effects in their explanation.
"It's crucial that proponents meet the duty to inform the voters of the material effect of the petition," Rowland said.
Rowland noted the Russell ruled whether the initiative met the requirement for an initiative petition, not on the merits of the petition itself.
Russell ruled that the petition was vague and violated a state law limiting a ballot question to one subject.
Vancura said he believed that if the high court grants an expedited hearing and rules quickly, there would still be time to collect the 97,000 valid signatures needed to get the petition on the November ballot.