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State Opposes Attempts to Block Access to Information on Womens Reproductive Health

September 3, 2017, 6:16 AM HST (Updated September 3, 2017, 6:22 AM) · 9 Comments
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The Department of the Attorney General filed a memorandum opposing an attempt by certain religiously-affiliated organizations to prevent a new law concerning women’s access to information regarding reproductive health services from being enforced.

The law, Senate Bill 501 (2017), was passed by the Hawaiʻi state legislature on May 4, 2017, and signed into law as Act 200 on July 12, 2017. It requires limited service pregnancy centers to notify women in writing regarding the availability of state-funded reproductive health services.

The Department’s memo argues that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over several Western states including Hawaii, already upheld a similar law passed by California in 2015.

The opposition memo states in part:

“The Legislature has found that “[m]any women in Hawaiʻi … remain unaware of the public programs available to provide them with contraception, health education and counseling, family planning, prenatal care, pregnancy-related, and birth-related services.”

To address this concern, [Act 200] was enacted into law. It requires “limited service pregnancy centers,” as defined in the Act, to disseminate a written notice to clients or patients informing them that Hawaiʻi has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services.

There were two lawsuits filed in July, one alleging violations of the First Amendment, and the other alleging violations of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Hawaiʻi Constitution.

  • xOn July 12, 2017, Plaintiffs CALVARY CHAPEL PEARL HARBOR, d/b/a A PLACE FOR WOMEN IN WAIPIO (“Calvary Chapel”) and NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF FAMILY AND LIFE ADVOCATES d/b/a NIFLA (“NIFLA”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed this lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Act based, inter alia, on alleged violations of their First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.
  • On July 19, 2017, Plaintiff ALOHA PREGNANCY CARE AND COUNSELING CENTER, INC. (“Plaintiff”) filed this lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Act based on alleged violations of its First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion, and based on alleged violations of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Hawaiʻi Constitution.
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On Friday, a similar filing was made in a related case as well.

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