by Steven Ertelt
April 27, 2006
Honolulu, HI (LifeNews.com) — Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle has signed a measure that would expand abortion and further entrench it in state law should Roe v. Wade be overturned. Pro-life groups opposed the bill and say it would make Hawaii an abortion haven and harm women by making abortions more dangerous.
Lingle, a Republican, signed the bill Wednesday and made no public comments on itl. Her statement did little more than describe the various parts of the legislation.
The law removes the requirement that abortion facilities cannot do abortions on a woman who has lived less than 90 days in Hawaii.
It also removes a requirement that all abortions be performed in a hospital in case of a botched abortion where the woman involved needs immediate medical attention.
Sponsors of the bill said it keeps Hawaii law in line with the Roe v. Wade decision. They say the provisions the bill removes are being enforced anyway.
The measure also reasserts the right of a woman to have an abortion of a "nonviable" unborn baby and that abortions are legal to save a woman’s life or protect her health, though abortions are not normally needed to protect a woman’s health and come with a myriad of medical problems.
Sen. Sam Slom, a Republican who opposed the measure, called it "an expansion and an enlargement of opportunities for abortion" in Hawaii, according to the Honolulu Star Bulletin newspaper.
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.
Kelly Rosati, spokeswoman of the Hawaii Catholic Conference, was particularly concerned about removing the hospital requirement and says it will endanger women’s health.
"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.
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.
Hawaii 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.
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.
"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.