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Catholic Bishops-Supported Anti-Choice Ballot Initiative in Florida Angers Other Faith Leaders

Robin Marty

Voters will decide in November whether to create parental consent requirements for teens seeking an abortion.

For many states, an attempt to force teen girls to get parental permission prior to abortion is a legislative affair. But anti-choice activists in Florida have decided to bypass the legislature and take the issue straight to the voters.

Amendment 6 asks voters to create stricter rules for so-called “public funding of abortions” by forbidding any taxpayer dollars from funding an abortion (which is in any case legal only in extremely limited circumstances) and eliminating coverage of abortion care in private insurance plans. The end result could diminish access to insurance coverage of abortion care for state government employees and their families, and the general population. The amendment also strips privacy rights when it comes to an abortion—a move that will force teen girls to get parental consent for a pregnancy termination, which currently is not required due to a patient’s right to privacy.

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops is campaigning heavily for the amendment, and the injection of religion into politics has members of other faith groups angry.

Via the Orlando Sentinel:

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On Wednesday, a group called Faith Voices Against Amendment 6 – represented by Jewish, Unitarian and Methodist clergy – announced its opposition.

“Diversity of opinion is OK. What’s not OK is when one group tries to impose their views on everyone else,” said the Rev. Katy Schmitz, of the First Unitarian Church of Orlando.

The group backing Amendment 6, Citizens for Protecting Taxpayers and Parental Rights, raised just over $96,000 from Catholic dioceses in Miami, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Venice and Pensacola; the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops and other religious groups. But its campaign manager said Wednesday the fight wasn’t over imposing religious views, but rather public preferences.

“Religion is not a dimension of this. We want Florida and federal law to be aligned,” said Jim Frankowiak. “We don’t want government funds used for abortions with certain exceptions. The vast majority of public polling agrees with us.”

The state has 11 amendments on the ballot this election cycle.

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