Florida resoundingly defeated a cynical and mean-spirited constitutional amendment, leaving women’s health relatively safe in the state. The defeat bodes well for those hoping for a return to some sanity in a state taken over by Tea Party extremists.
Amendment 6 was dubiously named the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion” amendment and, had it passed, it would have dramatically restricted access to safe abortion care by limiting private insurance coverage of abortion care, eliminating privacy rights of teen girls needing to terminate a pregnancy and by addressing the boogeyman of non-existent state funding for abortion.
Anti-women’s health politicians and activists were hoping that a win on Amendment 6 in Florida would give life to a national movement that has suffered major setbacks at the ballot box over the past several years and led to a tidal wave of anti-women’s health legislation in Florida. That didn’t happen. As reported by the Orlando Sentinel:
Flustered by their inability to pass stronger abortion restrictions, lawmakers put Amendment 6 on the ballot â€” which would have prohibited state funding of abortion services or insurance coverage that covered abortions, and also removed the privacy protection in the constitution that had prevented stronger parental-consent laws from surviving legal challenges. It failed with 45 percent of the votes. 60 percent is needed for passage.
A lot of factors could explain why Amendment 6 was defeated. Ballot initiatives are often torturously worded and voters tend to skip over them. And Florida had 11 legislatively drawn constitutional amendments, creating a historically long ballot that contributed to voting woes in the state.
But it’s also worth noting that Amendment 6 was part of a companion attack on expanding access to health care. Floridians also voted on Amendment 1, which would have explicitly provided that Florida couldn’t impose its own health-care mandate. Amendment 1 also failed, garnering only 48 percent of the votes cast. And Amendment 9, which pitted religious groups against teachers unions, would have deleted the ban on public funds going directly or indirectly to any church, sect or religious denomination won only 44 percent of the vote.
Taken together these defeats suggest Florida voters have a much clearer understanding of the First Amendment than Tea Party legislators in the state. It also suggests that Florida voters understand that “religious liberty” is not a sword by which Christian conservatives can impose religious law in this country. Perhaps they should send some of that knowledge along to their friends in Montana, Alabama, Wyoming and Missouri who all passed similar anti-Obamacare ballot initiatives demanding their state not benefit from health care reform. Montana went the extra mile and passed a parental notification prior to an abortion for minors 15 years of age and younger. Previous attempts to pass parental notification in Montana were thwarted by the courts and Governor Brian Schweitzer.
These more localized votes show that while women and women’s rights made significant electoral strides forward this election, anti-choice politicians have no problem pushing anti-abortion measures any way they can, which means it could be ultimately up to voters to determine just how much access to reproductive health care the women and girls in their states should have.
Photo from sagegale via flickr.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.