CARSON CITY, Nev. — A coalition of Nevada anti-abortion groups is opposing a personhood initiative backed by other anti-abortion organizers, saying it will hinder their cause in the long run and could backfire if federal courts became involved.
"We don't see that these proposed personhood initiatives have been successful," Janine Hansen, president of Nevada Eagle Forum, said Thursday. "There's been no practical implementation anywhere."
Eagle Forum, Nevada Life, Nevada Families, Nevada Right to Life and the Independent American Party opposed a similar personhood effort in 2009.
In a joint statement opposing the latest measure, the groups said, "We also believe that initiatives like these provide political and financial windfalls to abortion advocates and their candidates."
Hansen said her organization and others feel "the effort should be at changing the law at the legislative level" and by electing anti-abortion candidates.
Chet Gallagher, director of the Nevada Prolife Coalition that is backing the current initiative to define a "prenatal person," said the criticism is a "divisive response" by some anti-abortion advocates.
Gallagher said efforts over the decades to change abortion laws through legislative restrictions have failed.
"Personhood proponents, acting together through citizen led initiatives, intend to end elective abortion without exception rather than continue 'regulating' the slaughter," he said in an email to The Associated Press.
On Monday, Gallagher's group filed its latest proposed constitutional amendment, which states the "unalienable right to life of every prenatal person is protected."
Birth control, embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization or other assisted reproductive or scientific research procedures "that intentionally kills a prenatal person" would be prohibited, even in the case of rape or incest.
The proposal lists some exceptions, including treatment for spontaneous miscarriage, cancer, ectopic and molar pregnancy, and twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.
Hansen said even if the measure won voter approval, it wouldn't change Roe. v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States.
Hansen said the biggest concern among abortion opponents who are against personhood initiatives is that passage would invite lawsuits and court interpretation, possibly undermining other gains such as parental notification laws.
"There's been a lot of incremental legislation that has been passed in the states that has been positive," she said, noting a Texas law requiring doctors to conduct a sonogram and make the image viewable to the woman before performing an abortion, though the question of enforcement remains in limbo.
"That's a tremendous victory," Hansen said.