Las Vegas Sun

October 31, 2014

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Supreme Court hears abortion arguments tied to proposed amendment

CARSON CITY – An attorney for a group seeking a Nevada constitutional amendment to ban abortion says it is also aimed at preventing assisted suicides.

Michael L. Peters, representing Personhood Nevada, urged the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to allow the proposed amendment to go forward on the November ballot.

But Lee Rowland, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, argued the language in the proposed amendment is so vague that the average voter would not know what he or she is voting on.

She urged the court to uphold the decision of District Judge Todd Russell of Carson City, who ruled the petition could not be circulated because it doesn’t comply with the law.

The Supreme Court agreed to speed up handling of the case since the backers of the amendment would still have to gather more than 97,000 signatures by June 15 to qualify it for the ballot.

The proposed amendment would change the word “human being” to “person” and would give the individual the protection of life, liberty and property protection from time of conception.

The proposed amendment must contain a single subject, and justices leveled questions at both lawyers on that issue.

Justice James Hardesty suggested the language in the amendment could affect several areas of the law. That could violate the requirement for a single subject in the proposed amendment.

Other justices suggested the issue could go on the ballot and the court could examine the effects if and when it is approved by the voters.

But Rowland told the court, meeting in Las Vegas, that the language of the amendment is so general and vague that voters wouldn't know what they are casting ballots on.

“There needs to be information to let the voter know what is going on,” she said.

Peters said this amendment is to “close the gap” to protect the pre-natal child. He said it was also meant for the elderly to prevent assisted suicide.

The court took the arguments under consideration and will rule later.

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