Hawaiʻi Senate passes bill protecting access to abortion; House considers legislation next
The Hawaiʻi State Senate on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 2282, legislation that would strengthen statutory protections for abortion. The bill now goes to the state’s House of Representatives for consideration.
Advocates of the bill say it will preserve and reinforce Hawaiʻi’s position as a stalwart supporter of abortion access at a time when the US Supreme Court could soon overturn the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that affirmed the constitutional right to abortion.
Senate Bill 2282 clarifies that all pregnant people in the state have the right to access abortion care, including transgender and gender nonbinary people; provides consistency across state abortion statute; and eliminates archaic provisions that threaten criminal prosecution against providers for providing abortion care.
“We are witnessing the culmination of a 50-year campaign to destroy abortion access across the country, with the Supreme Court set to undermine this constitutional right in a matter of months,” said Lisa Humes-Schulz, vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. “Hawaiʻi has long been one of the most supportive states for patients seeking abortion care, and SB 2282 becoming law this year means we will keep doing our part. It is critical that the House of Representatives also passes this legislation and sends it to Governor [David] Ige’s desk.”
A provision in the bill eliminates outdated portions of state law that threaten criminal punishment for health providers providing safe and basic abortion care.
Hawaiʻi now faces an abortion provider shortage, which leads to higher costs, unnecessary travel, long wait time, and delays to time-sensitive care for patients. Threatening criminal punishment against providers singles out and stigmatizes abortion care, forcing providers to weigh the benefits of providing safe health care with the threat of prosecution, supporters of the bill say.
“In a moment where abortion providers across the country are facing increasingly hostile environments and the possibility of prosecution, it is up to Hawaiʻi to do everything we can to ensure abortion care remains protected and available for anyone who needs it,” said Sen. Rosalyn Baker, sponsor of SB 2282. “For every state like Texas or Idaho that seeks to limit and restrict access to health care services like abortion, we must be there to answer them and make sure abortion care is accessible in Hawaiʻi.”
At the national level, US Sen. Mazie K. Hirono of Hawai’i and US Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan today introduced the first congressional resolution to honor abortion providers and clinic staff. The virtual press conferenced can be watched here.
“Women across the country are under attack—but so too are the health care professionals who provide safe and legal abortions,” Sen. Hirono said. “Across the country, abortion providers experience intimidation, harassment, threats and violence from anti-abortion extremists. These doctors, nurses and staff fear for their lives just to provide access to reproductive care.”
The resolution was inspired by Dr. David Gunn, who was the first known abortion provider to be killed when he was murdered outside his abortion clinic in Pensacola, FL by a white supremacist, antiabortion extremist.
To honor his legacy, Abortion Provider Appreciation Day was established on March 10, 1996, to show appreciation for the essential, high-quality care that abortion providers and clinic staff provide to their communities and to celebrate their courage and dedication.
With the proliferation of harmful abortion bans and restrictions across the country, abortion providers are rendered more vulnerable to harassment and violence. The resolution affirms abortion providers are valued as they provide care despite pressures, restrictions, political interference and threats to their personal safety.
The Abortion Provider Appreciation Day resolution is endorsed by: 2+ Abortions Worldwide; Access Reproductive Care-Southeast; Advocates for Youth; All* Above All Action Fund; American Medical Student Association; Amplify Georgia Collaborative; A Woman’s Choice of Charlotte, Greensboro, Jacksonville and Raleigh Chapters; Abortion Access Front; Black Women’s Health Imperative; Catholics for Choice; Center for Reproductive Rights; Chicago Abortion Fund; Cobalt; EMAA Project; Feminist Women’s Health Center; Florida Access Network; Freedom From Religion Foundation; Frontera Fund; Global Justice Center; Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights (GRR!); Gynuity Health Projects; Ibis Reproductive Health; Ipas; Jane’s Due Process; Lilith Fund; Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom; Men4Choice Advocacy; Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN); Michigan Voices; NARAL Pro-Choice America; National Abortion Federation; National Birth Equity Collaborative; National Council of Jewish Women; National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association; National Institute for Reproductive Health; National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice; National Organization for Women; National Women’s Law Center; Nebraska Abortion Resources (NEAR); Physicians for Reproductive Health; Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood of Michigan, Population Institute; Positive Women’s Network USA; Power to Decide; Pro-Choice Connecticut, North Carolina, Missouri, Oregon, Wyoming; ProgressNow New Mexico; Reclaim; Reproductive Health Access Project; Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine; Tampa Bay Abortion Fund; Tampa Bay Access Force; Texas Equal Access Fund, UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health; URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity; United State of Women; We Testify; Whole Woman’s Health Alliance; Women’s Health Center of West Virginia; Women’s Medical Fund Inc.; and Women of Reform Judaism.