Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Privacy clause is at center of Amendment 6 debate

TALLAHASSEE — Supporters of Amendment 6 say their intentions are simple: to ensure Florida tax money isn't used to pay for abortions and to restore state laws that require parental consent before minors get abortions.

But that's not all this proposed constitutional amendment would do, opponents say. Amendment 6 would modify a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution that for the past 32 years has helped protect citizens from government intrusion in their private lives. They say it's not just a woman's right to have an abortion that could be in jeopardy, but decisions regarding contraception, health care and personal choices.

"To us, it's deeply concerning because in our Constitution in this state, there is a very explicit right to privacy that people should be free of government interference," said Deirdre Macnab, state president of the League of Women Voters, an organization leading the campaign against Amendment 6. "This is the first step in dismembering and overturning our Florida Constitution's right to privacy."

Of the 11 different constitutional amendments filling ballots this fall, Amendment 6 is the one that could have the most lasting unintended consequences, opponents argue. The measure, and the 10 others, require 60 percent of votes cast to pass.

The proposal, which was placed on the ballot by the Republican-controlled Legislature, is primarily being championed by the Catholic Church. Religious institutions in Florida can support or oppose ballot initiatives without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status. They are prohibited from supporting or opposing specific candidates.

While state and federal law prohibits public funding of abortion, supporters want the ban written into the Constitution.

"We believe that people don't want their taxpayer dollars paying for abortions," said Sheila Hopkins, associate director at the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The church distributed literature touting the importance of Amendment 6 to parishes. Bishops and priests encouraged members to spread the word among friends and neighbors leading up to Election Day.

In addition to making the state Constitution mirror federal rules that prohibit public dollars from paying for abortions (except in the case of cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in jeopardy), Amendment 6 also modifies a privacy clause in the state Constitution.

Florida is one of nine states that has specific privacy protections beyond the U.S. Constitution. Supporters hope that relaxing these protections will empower the Legislature to restore state laws that require parents to give permission before a minor receives an abortion.

Current state law requires guardians of minors only to be notified.

"We are anxious and want to pass Amendment 6 so the parents can get back their rights to be involved with their child on such a serious decision," Hopkins said.

Amendment 6 opponents say consequences could be far-reaching if it passes and these privacy protections evaporate. That is why they have put so much energy into the "Vote No on 6" campaign, as well as money, to the tune of $3.1 million through Oct. 12.

"Certain people could be targeted, and having certain aspects of their health care taken away," said Damien Filer, who works for Progress Florida and is serving as a spokesman for the "Vote No on 6" campaign. "Who knows if we're opening a floodgate to just about anything?"

Most financial support against Amendment 6 has come from Planned Parenthood chapters, but the coalition includes the Florida League of Women Voters, NAACP and other socially progressive religious, civil rights and labor groups.

As of Oct. 12, the political committee raising money for the "Say Yes on 6" campaign had collected about $380,000.

Tony Carvajal, director of policy at the nonpartisan Collins Center for Public Policy, said the privacy issue remains at the center of the Amendment 6 debate. And the implications could be huge in the long term, he said. "This changes the whole battleground in the courts for abortions."

Contact Tia Mitchell at tmitchell@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

Your guide to the amendments

A closer look at the 11 proposed changes

to the Florida Constitution is at

tampabay.com/amendments.

Privacy clause is at center of Amendment 6 debate 10/23/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 11:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Christian to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a perfect 30-0 …

    Matheu Nelson of Calvary Christian celebrates scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning.
  2. Mayor: Men stabbed after anti-Muslin rant died as 'heroes' (w/video)

    Nation

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Police said Saturday they'll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.

    A sign of thanks rests against a traffic light pole at a memorial outside the transit center on Saturday in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]
  3. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  4. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Wing Jonathan Drouin could be the only piece that Tampa Bay has to acquire a badly needed top-tier defenseman.
  5. Ryan Hunter-Reay running strong as he seeks a second Indianapolis 500 title

    Auto racing

    Ryan Hunter-Reay isn't a big jewelry fan.

    Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won Indy in 2014, is a contender for a second title in today’s 101st running. He qualified 10th, had the third-fastest practice lap and his team is looking strong.