Experts Warn About Privacy Implications of Proposed Fla. Antiabortion Amendment

October 12, 2012 — Experts during a public forum last week discussed the implications of an initiative (Amendment 6) on Florida's November ballot that would ban public funding for most abortion care or coverage, Tampa Bay Newspapers reports (McClure, Tampa Bay Newspapers, 10/9).

The measure also would exempt abortion from a privacy clause in the state constitution, which the Florida Supreme Court cited in striking down previous parental consent and notification laws for minors seeking abortion care. Supporters of the amendment have said the change would clear the way for enactment of a parental consent law in Florida (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/9).

Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan, an associate professor of political science and associate director of the Bishop Center for Ethical Leadership and Civic Engagement at the University of South Florida, said the constitutionality of a ban on public funding for abortions "is already settled." She noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that neither states nor the federal government "have to provide funding for non-therapeutic abortions."

The privacy-related language in the amendment means that "for the first time we'll be voting to take away rights we have right now," McLauchlan said, adding, "[H]ere in Florida we voted in 1980 that this right to privacy is something important enough that it should be in the (state) Constitution. It's not just about abortion. It's about all privacy."

Tara Newsom, associate professor of social and behavioral science at St. Petersburg College in Florida, said the measure would create an "open door" for enactment of antiabortion-rights legislation (Tampa Bay Newspapers, 10/9).