Abortion Expansion in Hawaii?

March 1, 2019

Hawaii’s legislators are poised to expand access to abortion in Hawaii but adding APRN’s to the list of medical providers who can do aspiration abortions.  The bill also allows them to do it in their office.

SB 815 SD 1Relating to Health authorizes advanced practice registered nurses to perform medical or aspiration abortions if certain requirements are met. Clarifies who may refuse to perform an abortion and the notice procedures for refusal.

Why is this bill necessary?  Existing law prohibits anyone other than a physician or surgeon or an osteopathic physician and surgeon from providing aspiration abortions, a common procedure for surgically terminating an abortion in the first trimester.  For those in rural or underserved communities, (according to the supporters of the bill), traveling to another island or county due to existing restrictions creates excessive barriers that may mean they are not able to access legal abortion at all.

The bill was amended in committee to:

  1. Specify that advanced practice registered nurses with prescriptive authority, and who meet other specific qualifications, may perform abortions by medication or aspiration;
  2. Clarifying that advanced practice registered nurses shall only perform abortions by medication or aspiration;
  3. Specifying that no abortion shall be performed in the State unless the abortion is performed by specific licensed health care providers acting within the licensed health care providers’ lawful scopes of practice;
  4. Removing excessive criminal penalties;
  5. Specifying that individual health care providers, but not hospitals, are permitted to opt out of providing abortions, as permitting entire hospitals to opt out creates a significant barrier to women seeking abortions;
  6. Preserving an individual’s ability for refusal to participate in an abortion or be liable for such refusal, as long as the person provides prior written notice and the refusal does not cause a serious risk to another person’s health or life;
  7. Making some “technical” changes for clarity

STATUS:  On February 27, 2019 the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection & Health recommended that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS. The votes in CPH were as follows:
4 Aye(s): Senator(s) Baker, S. Chang, J.Keohokalole, L. Thielen;
1 No(es): Senator(s) Fevella;
2 Excused: Senator(s) Nishihara, Ruderman.

The Senate Committee on Judiciary recommended that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS. The votes in JDC were as follows:
3 Aye(s): Senator(s) K. Rhoads, Wakai, Kim;
2 No(es): Senator(s) Gabbard, Fevella; 

  The bill will now move to the full Senate for a vote.  You can send a message to your Senator by clicking this link.