All amendments on this year's Florida ballot should be carefully considered. However, Amendments 6 and 8 will uphold American's founding principles of protecting its citizens and preserving our religious freedom. In light of this, voters should say "YES" on Amendments 6 and 8.
* Amendment 6
Affirming parental and taxpayer rights is the core of Amendment 6. It would allow legislation to strengthen the rights of parents by requiring consent before their child seeks an abortion. Some teenagers have suffered major complications from abortions, but sadly their parents are notified after-the-fact, sometimes only when they receive the bill. If children need consent in order to take an aspirin at school or to go on a field trip, should it not be the same for such a major and potentially dangerous medical procedure? This inconsistency should be resolved for the good of society.
Amendment 6 would also put Florida in line with federal law by prohibiting tax dollars from being spent on abortion-except in rare cases. Recent polling demonstrates that whether "pro-life" or "pro-choice," people generally do not want publicly funded abortion.
Opposition to Amendment 6, which is spearheaded by the largest abortion provider in the United States, claims that if the Amendment is passed, women will have no access to abortion. Couldn't be further from the truth! Amendment 6 does not address the issue of access; it restores parental rights and prohibits tax-payer funding of abortion.
* Amendment 8
Amendment 8 upholds two basic building blocks of our society: freedom and non-discrimination. Under the Blaine Amendment, current Florida law prohibits religious organizations from receiving state funds, even if the funds are used for services such as food pantries, low-income housing for the elderly, or assistance for mothers and their children. In recognition of longstanding partnerships between the government and religious social service providers, the Blaine Amendment has historically not been invoked; however, this was challenged by a recent court case. Amendment 8 will help faith-based groups continue their good work without the threat of legal challenge. After all, hasn't the government relied on faith-based groups to serve the most vulnerable in the community?
Denying state funds to faith-based groups on religious grounds is blatant discrimination and a violation of religious freedom.
Naysayers claim Amendment 8 would destroy public schools through vouchers. Again, not true! The Florida Supreme Court ultimately declared the Opportunity Scholarship Program (a voucher system) unconstitutional on the grounds of Article IX of the Florida Constitution, not the Blaine Amendment. There is a reason Amendment 8 was titled "Religious Freedom"; it is not about school vouchers!
If passed, Amendments 6 and 8 will reinforce the government's role in protecting taxpayers, honoring parental rights, and preserving the religious freedom of us all. These fundamental American values should be upheld in our state constitution. Vote "YES" on Amendments 6 and 8.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane
Diocese of Venice