A Thousand Cuts
02/21/19 | Eva Andrade
Many people asked me what to expect for this year’s session of the State Legislature. I told them that after holding back physician-assisted suicide for 20 years, there wasn’t any equivalent big “moral” issue on the horizon. However, I warned them that I expected the outlook to be “death by a thousand cuts.”
While the legislature continues to debate important things like access to more affordable housing, a living wage, the usury of pay-day lending, services for people with mental illness, and homelessness, there remains a blatant attempt to attack faith-based institutions. We are seeing bills that would force faith-based organizations to pay for “reproductive health” services (aka abortion, contraceptives and in-vitro fertilization) and would place the accreditation of Catholic schools under third-party control, which may violate their constitutional rights.
There is even a bill that would create penalties for pharmacies and pharmacists, or their agents, that refuse to honor prescriptions issued under the new doctor-assisted suicide law, otherwise known as the “our care, our choice” act. The proposed law would force them to dispense the suicide drugs, even if it violated their conscience or religious beliefs. There is no religious exemption in that bill.
While our legislature is correctly trying to curb the high rate of vaping by our youth, there is also a massive push to either legalize recreational marijuana outright or at least decriminalize it. On the other hand, is a concerted effort to control, or outlaw, smoking. When asked if outlawing cigarettes would hurt Hawai’i economically, one representative candidly replied that the legalization of marijuana would more than cover the deficit.
A positive bill that would have protected babies born alive after a botched abortion received a hearing, but was killed in the House Health Committee by a vote of 5-1 (one member was excused). While we were thrilled that a pro-life bill received a hearing, we were disappointed that opponents of the bill turned it into an attack on personal choice. I have not seen a pro-life abortion bill in the capitol since the failed partial-birth abortion ban in the State House in 1998!
There are some really good bills now moving through the legislature aimed at reducing suicide in Hawaii through education and prevention. (But don’t count the 40-70 people that our State Department of Health predicted would avail themselves of the new assisted suicide law.) Since the assisted suicide law went into effect, people are asking for more information about hospice and palliative care. Again, our legislators rightly are moving a bill to expand education on these great two services.
A gambling bill was moving that would have created a body politic, known as the Hawaii sports wagering corporation, authorized to offer a regulated, secure and responsible framework for sports betting in Hawaii. The idea was to provide consumer protections and capture additional revenues for the benefit of the State. Thankfully the House Judiciary Committee changed the bill to establish instead a task force to examine and make recommendations on policy issues regarding the benefits and harms of online gaming.
As the bills move through the next few weeks, things may change. Our efforts will be to ensure that issues of faith, family and religious freedom flourishes in a state that, at times, seem dead set against it. A thousand cuts may very well move us in a hundred directions, but we remain focused on remaining a voice for the faithful.
Pray for us!