County elections supervisors fear this year’s amendment glut could actually depress turnout, as some voters linger while trying to make sense of all the proposals and other voters tire of waiting. We’ll do our best in this and subsequent editorials to help voters understand what’s being proposed before they pick up a ballot, and we’ll offer our recommendations. Amendments need at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.
Florida’s publicly funded Medicaid program already follows the federal law, known as the Hyde Amendment. It prohibits the program from paying for abortions except where the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or results from rape or incest. This amendment would put the federal standards in the state constitution.
Amendment 6 also would bar any public funding for health insurance policies that cover abortion, with the same three exceptions. Government workers who rely on state-subsidized health coverage could find it more difficult to terminate their pregnancies.
And in a change that could have a much wider impact, the amendment would specify that a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution does not confer broader rights to an abortion than the U.S. Constitution does. State courts have cited the privacy clause, added by voters in 1980, to strike down abortion restrictions passed by lawmakers, including one that would require minors to get their parents’ consent for abortions.
Social conservatives in the state Capitol keep trying to stick their noses into this most personal medical decision for women, their families and their doctors. Amendment 6, if passed, would clear the way for lawmakers to erode abortion rights further.
Floridians would be much better off if their leaders would spend less time on divisive issues and more time trying to rebuild the state’s economy.
Voters should reject Amendment 6.
A provision in the state constitution, originating in 1885 but reaffirmed in 1968, bars public funding for churches or other religious institutions in Florida. Amendment 8 would eliminate this provision, known as the Blaine, or no-aid, amendment.
Supporters say Amendment 8 would protect vital public services currently provided by churches and other faith-based organizations — including drug treatment, foster care and prisoner rehabilitation — as well as public funding for religious-affiliated hospitals and universities. They warn that lawsuits could invalidate these arrangements.
This is a solution in search of a problem. None of these faith-based but religiously neutral services has been blocked in court.
And that’s why opponents are right to be suspicious of Amendment 8. It could be a back door to making private religious schools eligible for state funding through school vouchers. This policy has been embraced before by lawmakers but struck down in some court rulings based on the no-aid provision. It would siphon badly needed public dollars from public schools.
Voters should say no to Amendment 8.
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