Opinion Pieces Debate Fla. Antiabortion Ballot Measure

October 9, 2012 — Three recent opinion pieces in the Sunshine State News and Orlando Sentinel discuss the potential impact of a state ballot initiative (Amendment 6) that would limit public funding for abortion and the right to abortion under the state constitution. If approved, the amendment also would make it easier for the state to enact a parental consent requirement for minors seeking abortion care. Summaries of the editorials appear below.

~ Luci Belnick, Orlando Sentinel: Belnick, an internist, writes that it is "unclear how far [Amendment 6] would go." For example, it could allow state lawmakers to interfere in "sensitive and deeply personal medical conversations" between a patient and her obstetrician, she writes. The measure could set a "dangerous precedent" by limiting public employees' ability to obtain abortion coverage. She concludes, "As a physician I am against anything that might harm my patients and their families" and "[a]s a citizen I am against manipulating other people's employee benefits to promote a political agenda" (Belnick, Orlando Sentinel, 10/5).

~ Linda Miklowitz, Sunshine State News: "One thing that many conservatives and liberals agree on is a right to privacy," but Amendment 6 would mean that "Floridians would have less privacy and freedom from government intrusion," writes Miklowitz, former president of the Tallahassee and Florida chapters of the National Organization for Women. She notes that federal law already restricts public funding for abortion care, which gives women in Medicaid few options for ending a pregnancy. She adds that state data that show in "2009-2010 Medicaid paid for only four abortions for low-income women at a total of $534.60" (Miklowitz, Sunshine State News, 10/5).

~ Thomas Wenski, Sunshine State News: Wenski, president of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, writes that although Florida law requires consent for "medication as simple as an aspirin" and "mildly invasive procedures like tattoos or body piercing," abortion "is exempted from this requirement." He adds that parents are financially responsible for the treatment of complications that could result from an abortion. "It is unfair to parents to hold them responsible by law for their child's health while removing their ability to consent to treatment that puts the life and health of their child at risk," he concludes (Wenski, Sunshine State News, 10/5).