Pro-choice activists combating Florida anti-abortion ballot measure
A proposed constitutional amendment would eliminate privacy rights and could be another conservative step toward outlawing abortions in Florida. Vivian Taylor, volunteer coordinator for the group I Am Choice, said at a press conference in St. Petersburg Amendment 6 would demonize women for their reproductive choices.
â€œNo one wants their medical records or their personal information made public information and thatâ€™s what Amendment 6 would do in essence.â€
She said thatâ€™s because, â€œIt would take personal information gathered during family planning and make it public record.â€
Amendment 6 would overrule certain parts of Floridaâ€™s right to privacy law. Supporters of the measure say that component paves the way to require parental consent for a minor to undergo an abortion procedure. Jim Frankowiak acknowledged that it would affect adult women too.
â€œBut our emphasis â€“ this is a step leading to future state legislation that would bring back the need for parental consent for minor women.â€
Prior court rulings have set precedent that Floridaâ€™s privacy laws are broader than the federal governmentâ€™s. That keeps Florida from enacting parental consent legislation. Amendment 6 would not require parental consent for minors seeking abortions, but it would make a law requiring consent legal under Floridaâ€™s constitution. Frankowiak said parents should have the right to weigh in on what he sees as an important, long-lasting medical decision.
â€œYou know, today kids canâ€™t get an aspirin at school, canâ€™t get a body piercing or a tattoo without parental consent, but a girl can get an abortion without parental consent. Thatâ€™s just not right.â€
Opponents of the measure argue that this is just another on a long list of efforts to ultimately ban abortion. I Am Choice supporter Ramona Bethke said sheâ€™s really worried about what could happen if the amendment passes.
â€œThis is the gateway. This issue is the gateway. If this passes, itâ€™s going to open the door so wide, weâ€™re probably never going to be able to close it again.â€
Initiatives like declaring a fetus a person and can feel pain at a certain gestational age have popped up in states across the country. Ayele Hunt, founder of I Am Choice, said women need to charge the polls this election cycle to make sure this amendment doesnâ€™t pass.
â€œIf not now, when? If women do not stand up and demand their voices be heard with a huge turn in this Novemberâ€™s election then when? Will we wait until Roe V Wade has been overturned and women are getting underground abortions, seeking medical attention for botched abortion procedures and then being arrested for murder in the hospital bed because the personhood amendment passed?â€
The ballot initiative would also ban any state funding for abortions unless it was required for a womanâ€™s health or in the case of rape or incest. Mary Freeman, president of the Democratic Womenâ€™s Club of Upper Pinellas said Amendment 6 is redundant.
â€œFirst of all, when people go in to vote, theyâ€™re going to see the first line that says prohibiting government support for abortions. Well, itâ€™s already, I mean, thatâ€™s already a law.â€
Freeman is referring to the Hyde Amendment. Itâ€™s a federal provision that bars public funds from being used for non-medically necessary abortions. Freeman said she thinks the people pushing a similar state law are only doing it because of their religious beliefs.
â€œThey shouldnâ€™t let their religious beliefs come into â€“ be a factor in what happens to other women. They should just think about themselves and not think about everyone else; let everybody make their own choices.â€
But Amendment 6 supporter Frankowiak said the ballot initiative has nothing to do with religion.
â€œWhether youâ€™re pro-life or pro-choice doesnâ€™t make any difference â€“ no government funds for abortion and national polls repeatedly say that the majority of Americans do not want government dollars used for abortions with certain exemptions.â€
And as for the argument that the legislation isnâ€™t necessary because federal law already bans public funding for abortions, Frankowiak said,
â€œWe want federal and state law to be aligned and consistent, thatâ€™s not the case now.â€
Opponents of the amendment also worry that it could wipe out organizations like Planned Parenthood. That group performs abortions, but they also offer low cost preventative care services like mammograms and annual gynecological screenings. Planned Parenthood is running their own anti-Amendment 6 campaign called No on Six. The general election is on November 6.
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