Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 |
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Hawaii politicians and community members are speaking out after Friday’s landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade thus eliminating the federal constitutional right for women to have an abortion.
The decision, most of which was known since a draft was leaked in early May, means that abortion rights will be rolled back in nearly half of the states immediately, with more restrictions expected to follow.
Despite the federal ruling, abortion remains protected under Hawaii law as it has since the state was the first in the nation to legalize abortion in 1970. Thirteen other states, and the District of Columbia, also have laws that protect abortion.
“In the State of Hawaii, individuals have the right to make their own decisions about their own bodies and futures; these decisions are profoundly personal,” state Attorney General Holly Shikada said in a statement. “The Department of the Attorney General will continue its work in the fight to protect and strengthen reproductive rights.”
State Sen. Lorraine R. Inouye (D-Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona) in the hours after the ruling was handed down said “it’s a disaster.”
“I’m pro-choice and I’ve always respected women’s right to choose. We all know Hawaii has protected ourselves and our constitution protects that as well. But to me, the impact on those in other states will be severe,” she said. “I’m sure we’ll be seeing some of them coming to Hawaii for an abortion.”
The Democrat also noted the heartbreaking turmoil throughout the country
“We’re all divided, right? And there are pros and cons on women making their own choices. But now we have this going on in our country and it’s so dividing. That’s not healthy,” she said.
Fellow state senator, Laura Acasio (D-Hilo) said the ruling handed down by the nation’s highest court is a call to action.
“Let this Supreme Court decision be a call to action,” she said in a prepared statement. “I stand in solidarity with Hawaii’s congressional delegation which is already mobilizing to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.”
Calls to other Hawaii Island legislators were not returned as of press-time Friday.
Gov. David Ige also issued a statement calling the action by the nation’s highest court “outrageous” and “backward.”
“Today’s extreme U.S. Supreme Court ruling is outrageous and a huge step backward for women’s rights. Despite the ruling, I can assure you that women in Hawaii will continue to have access to the healthcare they need, and that includes abortion,” he said. “Hawaii law already protects the right of individuals to make their own deeply personal reproductive health decisions, including the right to seek abortion care. I will do everything in my power to ensure that women retain control over their own reproductive choices.”
In addition to state-level lawmakers, the four members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation condemned the decision.
“Today, the Supreme Court failed us,” said U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, a Democrat who hails from Hilo, noting that eliminating the constitutional right to abortion is “an assault on Americans’ means to safely choose their own future, and will further marginalize the most disadvantaged in our communities.”
“I grieve with the women and families in our lives who will mark today as the day they were left behind by their country,” he continued in the statement. “The days my three young daughters were born were among the happiest days of my life. For my daughters and for all Americans, we must persist and fight for women’s right to choose, as generations before us have. Hawaii was the first state to decriminalize abortion to support our values of equal opportunity and gender equity, and Hawaii will continue to protect a woman’s right to choose.”
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said that while the ruling handed down by the “Repub-lican-controlled Supreme Court” won’t impact Hawaii’s citizens, the fight must go on to protect the reproductive rights for all women across the country.
“A woman’s fundamental right to make decisions about her own body are hers alone – not the government’s,” the Democrat said in a statement.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, also a Democrat and staunch advocate for abortion rights and reproductive freedom, said Friday a “horrific day in America.”
“The Supreme Court was confronted with a fundamental question: who should have control over a woman’s body, a woman or a bunch of politicians. Today, the Supreme Court decided it should be a bunch of politicians. Their decision to overturn Roe will go down as one of the worst decisions in the history of the Court,” she said in the lengthiest statement issued by the delegations members.
She went on to condemn the “far-right MAGA majority on the Supreme Court” that “has stripped women in this country of a fundamental constitutional right we have relied on for nearly 50 years,” noting that Democrats will keep fighting to support women across the country, including expanding access to free contraception, protecting women’s health data, and passing the Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine the right to abortion into federal law.
“Women are going to suffer and die because of this decision. Republicans are going to have to answer for this in November,” she said. “Justice (Clarence) Thomas has signaled this is not the end of their assault on our individual rights and freedoms. Everyone must awaken to the fact that this is just the tip of the iceberg. We must rally together and elect more Democrats in November to protect our Democracy and our civil rights.”
Abby Lyons, a nurse in Kailua-Kona, said the decision is terrifying.
“I’m sad and I’m scared,” Lyons said. “I think it’ll really deter people from going into the profession or doctors in the ER. Can you imagine, having patients come in and legally not be able to help them?
“I see abortion as health care and most people go into health care now because they want to help people and now the law prevents them from doing that,” she continued.
Another member of the community, Janet, who asked that her last name be withheld, called the high court’s move “a real shame.”
“I’m not happy about it, but I came from Kansas, so at least I’m here now,” she said.
Echoing the sentiment of others, Kathleen McGilvary, CEO YWCA Hawaii Island, called the overturning of Roe v. Wade “deeply disturbing.”
“The right to safe legal health care is critical for women across the country, it should not matter where they live. Reproductive rights are an essential component of an open society, without which women cannot enjoy full equality. Historically the Supreme Court has expanded equality, it is deeply disappointing to see the rights of all women being reduced and medical professionals second guessed by five people on the Supreme Court,” said McGilvary.
LIV Pregnancy and Women’s Wellness, a pregnancy center in Kailua-Kona, declined to comment for this story. Pregnancy crisis centers typically work to intercept women with unintended pregnancies who might be considering abortion. Churches also did not respond for comment.
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