“In Hawaiʻi, Roe remains the law of the land.”
Senator Jarrett Keohokalole made that definitive statement at a press conference held after the Hawai‘i State Senate passed a major bill in defense of reproductive rights.
On Tuesday, March 7, 2023, the Senate passed SB1 SD1 by a 22-3 vote. It allows for licensed physician assistants to perform certain abortions, repealing the requirement that abortions be performed at certain locations, and clarifying that the state shall not deny or interfere with a pregnant person’s right to choose to (1) obtain an abortion or (2) if necessary to protect the life or health of the patient, terminate the pregnancy.
Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran authored the bill, and Senators Keohokalole and Joy San Buenaventura took the lead in sponsoring the bill, with Senator Keohokalole as Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection, and Senator San Buenaventura as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.
At the press conference held at the Patsy T. Mink Monument at the Hawai‘i State Library (the late U.S. Congresswoman was herself a staunch supporter of abortion rights), Senator San Buenaventura pointed out that in 1970 – three years before the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade – Hawai‘i was the first state to show bipartisan support for a woman’s right to choose.
Senator Keohokalole said the 2023 legislation was in direct response to the current Supreme Court overturning that decision. Those present at Tuesday’s press conference championed Hawai‘i’s and other states’ decision to protect reproductive rights.
Besides other speakers at the news conference that thanked the Senate for their support – namely Kimi Ide-Foster of Hawai‘i Women Lawyers and Shandhini Raidoo of the Hawai‘i American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – those present included Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke, Senate President Ron Kouchi, and Senators Lynn DeCoite, Lorraine Inouye, Dru Mamo Kanuha, Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Michelle Kidani, Chris Lee, Angus McKelvey, Karl Rhoads, and
Senate President Kouchi emphasized the importance of the bill and hopes that the House of Representatives, after conferring with advocates, will pass out the bill with equal speed, and then send it to Governor Josh Green’s desk for signing. The governor himself has previously promised to protect abortion rights in Hawai‘i.