We came into the 2023 legislative session ready to charge ahead in the face of abortion bans advancing across the continent. We knew this was a year that Hawaiʻi legislators needed to stand up and fight — and they did.
Our policy priorities ended up moving through the legislature in an omnibus bill, SB 1. The bill contained many items, several of them that we had been fighting for over the past few years, including allowing physician assistants to provide in-clinic abortions. Some of the other provisions included in SB 1 that reaffirm and strengthen the right to abortion care are:
- protections to telehealth abortion services
- gender neutral language in the abortion statute
- removal of criminal penalties against providers
- reaffirming statutory protections for minors accessing abortion care
- prohibitions on medical licensure boards taking adverse action against providers who provide care that is legal in the state of Hawaiʻi
- limitations on cooperation with other states’ investigations and proceedings about the provision of abortion
We also passed SCR18, a resolution requesting the auditor to conduct a social and financial assessment of proposed mandatory health insurance coverage for various sexual and reproductive health care services. We have worked on this resolution for several years and were excited to see it finally pass this year! This is a necessary step before the legislature can hear the bill regarding Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA). This bill would require insurers to cover a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services — including abortion — with no out-of-pocket costs. With the passage of the resolution, we are optimistic that we will see progress on this bill next session.
With everything happening on the continent post-Roe, this was an important session and time for Hawaiʻi — the first state to legalize abortion — to reaffirm and strengthen its commitment to abortion access. We are proud of the work that was accomplished this session in safeguarding and further protecting reproductive rights in Hawaiʻi and look forward to continuing this work through the summer and beyond