Immaculate Conceptions

Last month, Mississippians, who are not normally noted for their liberal-mindedness, defeated a constitutional amendment with 55 percent of the vote that would have defined a fetus as a person from the moment of conception. Perhaps they realized this was ridiculous. Perhaps they realized that this meant every sperm was sacred, making men who used condoms or were sloppy the equivalent of serial killers.

Now comes the real irony: Nevada will consider a constitutional amendment, through an initiative petition, that comes close to the same degree of stupidity.

The Nevada Profile Coalition won a ruling from Carson City District Court Judge James Wilson that it can circulate petitions to outlaw abortions. That made Chet Gallagher, one of the coalition leaders, happy. Wilson also changed the wording describing the initiative, adding that if voters approve it, it would affect “common birth-control methods.” That made Gallagher unhappy; he said that would be up to the Legislature.  Meanwhile,another, similarly inclined petition faces a test in Wilson’s court this week.

In 1990, Nevadans voted nearly 2-1 that they supported a woman’s right to choice. 

More than two decades later, Nevada’s population is about 125 percent greater.  Most of that growth has been in Clark County. That increase includes what had been the nation’s fastest-growing population of those over age 55, a group that trends more toward social conservatism. In
other words, it’s entirely possible that such an amendment could obtain the necessary number of signatures to go on the ballot, and less likely but still possible that it could pass. This brings up some additional points for consideration:

  • This isn’t the first time Nevadans, many of whom dismissed Sen. Harry Reid’s call to end prostitution and proudly hail their easy gambling and divorce laws, recently have engaged in such sanctimony. In 2000 and 2002, Nevadans approved an initiative that amended their constitution, stating, “Only a marriage between a male and female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state.” Since Britney Spears’ marriage and divorce also were recognized, claiming that this preserved the institution of marriage was ironic, to say the least. The idea that Nevada would approve these kinds of measures makes us look, frankly, silly.
  • This could prove to be the Republican Party’s worst nightmare. In a decade, the entire gay marriage debate has changed, mostly to the benefit of sense and decency. But in 2000 and 2002, the hope was that a measure to define marriage would boost Republican turnout. These proposed initiatives could well have the opposite or unintended effect.

This could work in several ways beneficial to Democrats. Women could be even more energized in 2012, as if the prospect of Sen. Shelley Berkley and Rep. Dina Titus weren’t enticing enough. And liberals who might have been in a snit over Barack Obama not performing miracles might just get into enough of a tizzy over this to move into action.

All of which is speculation at the moment. Much like speculating on what will happen when Mr. Sperm meets Ms. Egg.