Honolulu Star-Bulletin Local News
Isle pro-choice rating
at the top

Hawaii is one of five states in which
the abortion providers increased

By Pete Pichaske

WASHINGTON - At a time when most states are seeing a decrease in abortion providers and an increase in legal restrictions on abortions, Hawaii is bucking both trends and remains one of the most pro-choice states in the nation.

A state-by-state survey of abortion rights, released this week by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, found that Hawaii is one of only five states where the number of providers increased from 1982-1992.

The number of providers in Hawaii rose from 51 in 1982 to 52 in 1992.

Hawaii also is one of only 10 states with no legal restrictions on abortion, and abortion is available in every Hawaii county, the survey found.

"It's a model state," said Marcy Wilder, league legal director.

"The Legislature is pro-choice, there are abortion providers in the state, and there are laws regulating abortion but not over-regulating it."

She also noted that Hawaii is one of only 11 states that requires sexuality education that teaches both abstinence and contraception.

"Hawaii is really unusual," said Wilder. "Our study found that more states are enforcing more restrictions on abortion than at any time since Roe vs. Wade," the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

The study was released to coincide with the 24th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision today. The anniversary will be marked here and across the nation with the usual anti-abortion protests.

Holly Born, executive director of Hawaii Right to Life, part of the nation's leading anti-abortion group, agreed with the assessment of Hawaii as a pro-choice model.

"Unfortunately, I think it's right on," she said.

"Hawaii was the first state to legalize abortion, and it's been a downward spiral ever since ... Hawaii Right to Life is real disappointed in the numbers."

Although Hawaii's lawmakers and policymakers traditionally turn a deaf ear to anti-abortion groups, Born said Hawaii Right to Life has no trouble collecting signatures on petitions calling for restrictions.

"I think Hawaii is not as pro-choice as the track record of our Legislature would have you believe," she said.

A bill calling for restrictions on partial-birth abortions, a procedure especially abhorred by abortion opponents, was to be introduced in the Hawaii Legislature today, Born said.

The national survey found that 12 states have at least three abortion restrictions, which include not allowing counselors to recommend abortions, requiring that husbands consent to the procedure in some cases, and bans on specific abortion procedures.

The survey also included strong pro-choice statements from Gov. Benjamin Cayetano and Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, and noted that the Hawaii Democratic Party is officially pro-choice while the Hawaii Republican Party took no position in its 1996 platform.

Not only is the state Legislature overwhelmingly pro-choice, the survey found, but so is the congressional delegation.

Congressional ratings also released yesterday found that both senators and both House members from Hawaii voted pro-choice 100 percent of the time in 1996.

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