Hawaii Gov. David Ige signs pregnancy center protection bill
And now for some good news for anyone who values women’s health. Earlier this week Hawaii Governor David Ige signed SB 501 into law. Now known as the Act 200, the new law now requires so-called “limited service pregnancy centers (LSPCs)” to offer complete information about reproductive health services to any women who come in seeking help (click here for a story we published in February on this bill).
Though they seem to look like standard reproductive health centers like Planned Parenthood, LSPCs (like Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui in Wailuku, pictured above) are actually a creation of abortion opponents–women who walk in their door seeking guidance and assistance on reproductive health instead get an earful of anti-abortion rhetoric.
“We are thrilled that these protections are now the law of the state,” said Laurie Field, Hawaii Public Affairs Manager at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii (PPVNH), which pushed hard for SB 501. “Women who enter LSPCs are walking into a trap. Thankfully, our elected officials recognized this and, in passing this law, ensured that everyone has access to accurate and private information about their bodies and their health care.”
According to the Act 200 text, the law “Requires all limited service pregnancy centers to disclose the availability of and enrollment information for reproductive health services” and “Establishes privacy and disclosure requirements for individual records and information.” The new law also contains enforcement provisions and penalties.
“Now, limited service pregnancy centers (LSPCs) in Hawaii must protect the privacy of health care information, ensure notification for consumers that publicly-funded family planning services are available through the state, and provide them with immediate pregnancy test results,” stated a separate July 13 PPVNH email to supporters. “LSPCs include anti-abortion organizations that promote themselves as health care providers and offer free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds but do not follow health care and privacy regulations.”
Joy Wright, the executive director of Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui, declined to comment for this story, citing pending litigation. Earlier this year, she submitted testimony in opposition to SB 501. “Pregnancy centers do not charge for their services and clearly relay that they do not perform or refer clients for abortions,” Wright said in her written testimony. “Thus, the client is not mislead regarding services offered. Many pregnancy centers including the Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui are transitioning to operating under a state licensed Medical Doctor with a licensed nurse on staff. Pregnancy centers are nonprofit life-affirming faith based ministries that care about women holistically, the preborn, men, and the family unit.”
As it turned out, SB 501 passed easily through the Hawaii Legislature (in fact, all three of Maui’s state Senators–Roz Baker, J. Kalani English and Gil Keith-Agaran–were listed as introducers for the bill). This is in marked contrast to the U.S. Congress, which is hell-bent on defunding organizations like Planned Parenthood.
“While the U.S. Senate continues to fight over unpopular health care legislation with devastating consequences, Hawaii is forging ahead to ensure all women have access to accurate, comprehensive reproductive health care information,” said Field.
Photo of Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui: MauiTime