House OKs bill to repeal residency rule for abortion
The state House has advanced a measure that repeals the residency requirement for women seeking abortions and allows the procedure to be performed in clinics and physicians' offices outside of a hospital.
Supporters say the proposal simply updates a state law first passed in 1970 -- three years ahead of the landmark federal decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.
Opponents call it a move that will make Hawaii a haven for women seeking abortions and lead to unsafe procedures performed without proper medical supervision.
"This is not a mild expansion of abortion," said Rep. Bud Stonebraker (R, Kalama Valley-Hawaii Kai). "This is one of the most significant pieces of legislation to promote abortion that we've had in recent history."
House Bill 1242 passed with opposition from seven of 41 Democrats and six of 10 Republicans. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.
"The Hawaii Legislature has never revisited this statute since it was passed in 1970," said Rep. Marilyn Lee (D, Mililani-Mililani Mauka). "Hawaii, more than any other state, has clearly articulated the right to privacy.
"It is urgent that our state affirmatively declare its policy on a woman's right to choose."
Supporters noted that residency requirements for abortion have been declared unconstitutional and that many doctors already perform abortions at their offices.
Judiciary Vice Chairman Blake Oshiro (D, Aiea-Halawa) said the law is needed to bring Hawaii's law up to date, noting that if the U.S. Supreme Court were to strike down Roe v. Wade, abortion practitioners in Hawaii would be in "a cloud of uncertainty."
Human Services Chairman Alex Sonson (D, Pearl City-Waipahu) voted against the measure and questioned whether it was needed.
"I think the laws that we have are sufficient to serve the needs of those that want to have abortions," he said. "We should keep it there unless there is a proven need."