TAMPA, Fla. - To hear supporters and opponents of Amendment 6 talk, what's at stake is whether taxpayer money should fund abortions for public employees -- and whether minors should get parental consent to end a pregnancy.
The amendment would prohibit the use of state tax money for abortions except as required by federal law if it's passed by voters Nov. 6 -- something the state doesn't do, anyway.
It would also overrule court decisions that say the privacy rights in the state constitution are greater than those in the U.S. Constitution -- possibly making it easier for state lawmakers to require minors seeking an abortion to get parental consent. Abortions for minors currently require parental notification, not consent.
But the amendment -- put on the ballot by the GOP-controlled Legislature -- is evidence of the vast divide between conservative and liberal groups within the state. Like all amendments, it must get 60 percent approval to pass.
Some conservative lawmakers and proponents of the amendment are worried that President Barack Obama's health care overhaul would allow tax money to be used for insurance that covers abortion. Currently such expenditures are banned under federal law except in cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother is endangered.
"Public dollars shouldn't be used for private choices," said Jim Frankowiak, campaign manager for the main group supporting the amendment.
Frankowiak also said that requiring parental consent for a minor's abortion is also a top priority for conservative groups.
"We're hoping that it will lead to legislation that brings back parental consent," he said.
Amendment opponents say Obama's health care plan has nothing to do with this initiative and call it a "smoke screen."
"They're saying this is about taxpayer funding," said Judith Selzer, campaign manager Vote No on 6 effort and the vice president of public policy for Florida's Planned Parenthood affiliates. "This is about politicians trying to interfere with women's health care decisions."
Selzer said that the people most affected if Amendment 6 passes are public employees - teachers, nurses, firefighters, police and others.
She said that if passed, the state would ban private health insurance policies from paying for abortion for public employees.
"This is a direct attack on public employees," she said.
Amendment 6 has some well-known opponents and supporters.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush is in favor of the amendment, saying that Floridians "have the opportunity to restore parental consent" in cases where children are seeking an abortion.
"As parents, we have the responsibility and right to direct the education, health decisions and general welfare of our children," Bush said in a news release.
Sandra Fluke -- the Georgetown University Law School graduate who became well known after she was called a "slut" by radio host Rush Limbaugh for her prepared testimony to a Senate committee that health insurance should cover birth control -- is opposing the amendment.
She is appearing in a "Vote No on 6" television ad. The group has bought $1 million of TV air time.
As of Oct. 1, the Vote No on 6 group had raised $1.9 million. Groups opposing the amendment include Planned Parenthood and a coalition of faith leaders from the Jewish, Methodist and Unitarian traditions.
The main proponent of the amendment -- a group called Citizens for Protecting Taxpayers and Parental Rights -- had raised around $300,000, mostly from Catholic groups.
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