Florida's Healthcare Professionals Say NO to Amendment 2

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
October 31, 2008 12:00 am

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Florida’s Healthcare Professionals Say NO to Amendment 2

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CONTACT: media@aclufl.org

MIAMI – Sixty leading Florida health care professionals today issued a statement urging Floridians to vote “No” on proposed Amendment 2.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Committee to Protect Employee Health Benefits are working with a growing list of healthcare professionals from around the state who oppose Amendment 2. The statement by the healthcare professionals is at: www.aclufl.org/DoctorsNo2.cfm

“The forces behind Amendment 2 chose their words carefully. If they really just wanted to focus on marriage as a union between one man and one woman, as they say repeatedly claim, they would have put that language in Amendment 2,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. “Instead they have crafted a ban on anything “that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof. This signals that, if they successfully con Florida voters on Amendment 2, health care benefits are the next target.

“We urge all Floridians to vote NO on proposed Amendment 2,” added Simon.

If passed, Amendment 2 could jeopardize health insurance coverage, and limit public and private employer-provided benefits to domestic partners – gay or straight. Many people in Florida live in family relationships that are protected by domestic partner health care benefits. Amendment 2 could remove the ability for those couples to continue receiving coverage.

Here are just a few of the health care leaders speaking out against Amendment 2:

Paula Montgomery, MD, Pensacola:
“I oppose the amendment due to its unfair consequences. A number of my acquaintances are elderly couples who live together but are not married, because to do so would cause one or both of them to lose their retirement benefits. If Amendment 2 is passed, these couples would also lose the ability to share insurance, make medical decisions for each other and possibly even be denied the right to visit each other in a hospital.”

Vicki Impoco, RN, Melbourne:
“As a Registered Nurse in Intensive Care for the last 33 years I am deeply concerned how proposed Amendment 2 would impact my patients’ care in regards to defining who would be considered their next of kin.

“If Amendment 2 passes, the next of kin of a person who is hospitalized and incapacitated – even if they have been estranged family members for decades – would supersede (unless otherwise legally documented) their domestic partner from giving input to the patient’s plan of care and consent process. Domestic partners and common law partners could even be barred from visiting by objecting family members,” Impoco added.

Charles R. Sowder, MD, Bonita Springs:
“As an emergency room doctor, I’ve seen committed couples irreparably harmed by being denied hospital visitation and other fundamental human rights and benefits that married couples take for granted—because they were denied the protections of domestic partnerships, which would be removed if Amendment 2 passes.”

Siobhan McLaughlin, RN, Hollywood:
“I’ve worked in the Trauma Center Intensive Care Unit for many years and believe if proposed Amendment 2 passes it will severely impede the decision-making ability of couples who are not married in cases of hospitalization of their partners.”

Dr. Richard Goldman, Ormond Beach:
“I strongly urge Floridians to vote no on proposed Amendment 2. My primary concern is that the greatest numbers of people who will suffer from the proposed Amendment are our unmarried and elderly heterosexual domestic partners. We already have a state law declaring marriage as being ‘a union between a man and a woman.’ But the elderly domestic partners who are not married due to financial and other considerations would lose many of the privileges that are accorded those in a civil union if this amendment passes. It creates multiple problems for these couples in dealing with health issues, inheritance, and a multitude of other legal issues. This is a poorly thought out attempt by certain interest groups to deal with their perceived threat of homosexual marriage.”

Dr. Amarilis Torres, Pasco County Doctor of the Year, Tampa:
“As a physician in the state of Florida who takes care of many senior patients I know we cannot afford to have any more citizens, particularly our seniors lacking meaningful healthcare coverage.”

Samantha Simpson, RN, Orlando:
“From the first day of nursing school, I was told that it was my duty to provide safe, compassionate, unbiased care for my patients. What Amendment 2 proposes goes against everything I was taught. If we hope to improve our already inequitable healthcare system, where access to care is determined by how and if you can pay for it, we cannot keep expanding restrictions to healthcare coverage. Amendment 2 is not only discriminatory, it is detrimental to the health of the community. That is why, as an RN, I could not in good conscience condone proposed Amendment 2.”

The ACLU and the Committee to Protect Employee Health Benefits have been working with the healthcare community and mobilized this group to sign the statement against Amendment 2. Read the full statement signed by healthcare professionals at: www.aclufl.org/DoctorsNo2.cfm

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida is freedom’s watchdog, working daily in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend individual rights and personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For additional information, visit our Web site at: www.aclufl.org.

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