Editorial: Intrusive government

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 8, 2012 at 10:17 p.m.

Both federal and state laws already prohibit the use of public funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when a woman's life is endangered.

That being the case, there seems little point in placing that prohibition in the Florida Constitution?

But there is much more to proposed Amendment 6 than simply embedding existing law into the constitution.

Amendment 6 is also an assault on individual privacy rights, and its language can be construed to prohibit public employee health insurance to pay for abortions in cases where a woman's health may be at risk.

As it currently stands, Florida's constitution contains a strong right of personal privacy. Specifically, it states that “every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person's private life.”

Not even the U.S. Constitution so explicitly guarantees an individual's privacy against intrusive government.

But Amendment 6 includes language that states “With respect to abortion, this proposed amendment overrules court decisions which conclude that the right of privacy under Article 1, Section 23 of the State Constitution is broader in scope than that of the United States Constitution.”

In others words, under Amendment 6, a woman contemplating abortion could no longer deem herself “free from government intrusion” into her private life. The Legislature could be as intrusive as it chooses in its zeal to stamp out abortion rights.

The wording of the amendment also should be of concern to state and local government employees who stand to lose insurance coverage if they have to terminate a pregnancy for health reasons.

As a New York Times story about the amendment stated this week: “A pregnant woman with cancer who requires chemotherapy, for example, would probably have to terminate her pregnancy to receive treatment ... But because she is not in ‘danger of death,' as the measure would require, her insurance might not cover the procedure ... ”

In short, this is a deceptively worded amendment that would enable the Florida Legislature to conduct an all-out assault on a woman's right to choose and deny public employees health insurance coverage if they must seek an abortion for health-related reasons.

Voters should reject it.

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