Ballot Initiative of the Day: Florida’s Abortion Restriction Amendment

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Oct. 20, 2012 - St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S. - USF Tampa student Lucia Baker, 21, cheers as feminist, author and political activist Gloria Steinem takes the stage during a get-out-the-vote rally at Jannus Live on Saturday. Baker, an advocate of women's health issues said she came to the rally to stay informed and support the issues she believes in, like voting ''no'' on Amendment 6, to help keep Florida politicians from interfering in a woman's personal health care decisions. Steinem told the crowd of hundreds that Romney refused to take a stand on equal pay for women and would threaten reproductive rights if elected, declaring him the most extremist presidential candidate ever. (Credit Image: © Melissa Lyttle/Tampa Bay Times/

Abortion is always a divisive issue. On November 6, Floridians will vote on 11 constitutional amendments proposed by its GOP-controlled legislature, and Amendment 6, known as the Abortion Amendment, is the most controversial.

Amendment 6 would prevent state tax dollars from being used to cover abortion costs except in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment, and would also make it easier to require that minors have parental consent to terminate a pregnancy. A Florida ballot amendment requiring parental notification, not consent, became law after it passed 65% to 35% in 2004.

The amendment would align Florida law on abortion funding with federal rules–a measure called the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal tax dollars going to abortion coverage. But the debate over parental consent has been heated. If passed, Florida would join 24 other states that enforce parental permission, three of which require both parents to sign off.

Supporters of Amendment 6 say consent is common sense. “In Florida at this time, a minor daughter must have parental/guardian consent for an aspirin at school, a body piercing, participation in an off campus field trip or tattoo, but not an abortion,” says Jim Frankowiak, campaign manager for Citizens for Protecting Taxpayers and Parental Rights, the group leading the Yes on Six movement. “Passage of Amendment 6 will enable a family decide together such a personal decision as health care for their minor child without the interference of government.”

(Photos: Political Photos of the Week, Oct. 12-18)

Opponents argue that pregnant minors have a right to make their own decision. “Simply put, Amendment 6 allows politicians in Tallahassee to interfere in a woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions and a woman deserves to make her own decisions regarding her own health care,” says Lillian Tamayo, campaign chairwoman for Vote No on Six and president of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. “Women don’t turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care or cancer treatments—they want to go speak to their families, to their doctors, to their faith leaders, not politicians.” Sandra Fluke, who became a minor political celebrity advocating birth control coverage, has lent her support to the “Vote No on Six” campaign with a television ad criticizing the measure and urging young Florida to come out in force against it.

According to records filed with the Florida Division of Elections, “Vote No on 6” has brought in over $3.2 million in contributions. The Citizens for Protecting Taxpayers and Parental Rights has reported $409,000. But polling indicates voters are closely divided. An October 2 Suffolk University/7NEWS (WSVN-Miami) poll found that 44% of voters support the amendment while 40% oppose it. The amendment needs 60% of the vote to pass.