A new anti-abortion group called Citizens for Protecting Taxpayers and Parental Rights has launched a campaign called “Yes on 6,” urging Floridians to vote for Amendment 6 this November.
Amendment 6 is a legislatively created ballot initiative that proposes “the creation of Section 28 of 2 Article I of the State Constitution to generally prohibit public funding of abortions and prohibit the State Constitution from being interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the United States Constitution.”
The group launching the campaign is listed with the Florida Division of Elections as a political action committee with assets totaling $13,359.
Documents filed with the Division of Elections show that the committee is being funded by the influential anti-gay and anti-abortion group Florida Family Action PAC, which is part of the Florida Family Policy Council. Other anti-abortion groups funding the committee include the Florida Catholic Conference, Florida Right to Life and the Diocese of Venice in Florida.
As the measure made its way through the state Legislature last spring, the bill was presented as a way to restrict public funding of abortion — which is already illegal. But the amendment would roll back a constitutional privacy right in the Florida Constitution, which currently provides more protection for women than the U.S. Constitution does.
While the bill summary includes this information, critics take issue with the amendment’s title: “Prohibition on Public Funding of Abortions; Construction of Abortion Rights.”
State Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, said during debate over the bill that the amendment was introduced as a “political move to get out the vote in 2012.”
A press release from the “Yes on 6″ campaign, released yesterday, claims that the amendment is meant to “strengthen parents’ natural rights regarding their children’s health and protect public funds from being used for abortion”:
“Government has long recognized parents’ natural rights regarding their children’s education, health, and well-being. However, Florida’s ‘right of privacy’ clause has been interpreted to mean that while your child cannot get body piercing or medication at school without your consent, she can get an abortion,” said Dr. Randy Armstrong, president of Citizens for Protecting Taxpayers and Parental Rights.
Florida’s “right of privacy” clause has been interpreted by the courts as creating broader rights to an abortion than those rights currently contained in the United States Constitution. According to supporters, this amendment opens the door to pass future legislation requiring parental consent for minors seeking an abortion.
Armstrong, the group’s president, is an obstetrician/gynecologist who has provided “expert testimony” on anti-abortion bills in the Florida Legislature before. In 2005, he spoke in favor of a bill that cracked down on abortion clinics.
It will actually cost the taxpayers more to advertise for the amendment than publicly funded abortions cost the state. In Florida, public funds for abortions only go to women who are facing a pregnancy due to rape or incest, or a pregnancy that risks their life.
A bill analysis compiled by the House Judiciary Committee reported last year that between 2009 and 2010, Florida Medicaid paid for only four abortions at a cost of $534.60. From 2008 to 2010, the state paid for 20 abortions that fell under the current exceptions. These procedures cost the state at total of $3,119.
The committee analysis of the amendment reveals that the Florida Division of Elections expects to pay $106.14 per word to advertise the proposed amendment before the 2012 elections, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. The judiciary committee’s bill analysis explained that the the Division of Elections within the Department of State is “required to publish the proposed constitutional amendment twice in a newspaper of general circulation in each county.”