Judge: Personhood Proposals Would Limit Women's Access To Health Care

December 20, 2011 2:45 pm ET — Salvatore Colleluori

This year, personhood amendments were introduced in several states, notably in heavily conservative Mississippi, where the measure failed passage by a solid margin. The personhood movement, which is spearheaded by the organization Personhood USA, seeks to pass initiatives in all 50 states reflecting the belief that life begins at the moment of fertilization. Despite setbacks in Mississippi, Ohio, Alaska, and Colorado, the movement has continued to press for amendments in the upcoming year.

Yesterday, the concept of fetal personhood faced another setback when a Nevada district judge determined that such initiatives would go far beyond simply restricting abortions — they would also restrict access to certain types of health care. Per Nevada law, ballot initiatives must explain their effects, and under this law Judge James E. Wilson rewrote a proposed Nevada personhood initiative to include a discussion of its effects on other areas of health care. According a report in The Hill:

The Nevada judge said personhood opponents had proven their case about the movement's implications. He rewrote the state's personhood initiative to explicitly reference the ripple effects of passing a personhood amendment to the state constitution.

"The initiative will impact some rights Nevada women currently have to access certain fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization," the rewritten initiative says. "The initiative will impact some rights Nevada women currently have to utilize some forms of birth control, including the 'pill;' and to access certain fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization. The initiative will affect embryonic stem cell research, which offers potential for treating diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, and others."

The ruling in Nevada should come as no surprise. It solidifies what many opponents of personhood measures have previously said — that they take huge swipes at existing women's rights and could restrict essential women's health care far beyond abortions.

With presidential contenders Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) signing Personhood USA's pledge, this is a topic with national implications.