by Steven Ertelt
April 12, 2006
Honolulu, HI (LifeNews.com) — Hawaii lawmakers have sent a bill to the governor that would keep abortion legal if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade someday. The state was one of the first to legalize abortion in the years before Roe and legislators said they wanted to pass the law because opposition to abortion is growing nationally and the likelihood Roe will be reversed is increasing.
The measure removes residency rules requiring that abortions only be performed on state residents and allows private abortion businesses to join hospitals in performing abortions.
The state Senate had a heated debate before approving the bill.
Republican Sen. Sam Slom said the measure would make the island state the "abortion capital of the world."
"We are known for sewage in our ocean. What other negative thing could we be known for," he said, according to an AP report.
Republican Sen. Paul Whalen added that the bill expands abortions and would make it less safe for women.
"By allowing abortions to occur in doctors’ offices and clinics all the way to birth; as a late an abortion as you want," the bill causes safety and health issues, Whalen said.
Annelle Amaral, of Planned Parenthood Hawaii told AP that Whalen was wrong and that abortion businesses in the state are not licensed to perform late-term abortions.
The measure now heads to pro-abortion Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, who is expected to allow it to become law. Still, Amaral told the Honolulu newspaper she worries Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, who is pro-life, will advice Lingle to veto it.
"The lieutenant governor seems to have the ear of the governor, and he has certainly brought to bear his Catholic beliefs," Amaral said.
Lingle has not yet taken a position on the bill and told the Star Bulletin she wanted to examine the issue further before commenting.
"I don’t know what is the current situation in the state, so I would have to get into it a lot more deeply," Lingle said.
Lingle campaigned for governor as a pro-abortion candidate who supports some restrictions like a partial-birth abortion ban. She indicated she wanted input from the state attorney general and health department before deciding.
During the Senate hearing, Kelly Rosati of the Hawaii Family Forum and the Hawaii Catholic Conference objected to the bill.
"I think we’re going to reduce a lot of the protection granted to women by expanding [where abortions can be performed]," Jackie Mishler, a nurse representing the Maui chapter of Hawaii Right to Life, told lawmakers.
"This is not a mild expansion of abortion," said Rep. Bud Stonebraker, a Republican, told the Honolulu Star Bulletin newspaper. "This is one of the most significant pieces of legislation to promote abortion that we’ve had in recent history."
The House approved the measure on a 38-13 vote with seven Democrats and six Republicans voting against the measure.