By Amber Granite and Laurie Field
Given the all-out attacks on reproductive health care by the federal government and states across the country, the words, “lucky we live Hawaii,” have never been more true.
Hawaii was the first state to legalize abortion before the landmark Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, and has been a consistent leader in the reproductive rights movement since then. A recent article by The Washington Post highlights the widening gap in abortion laws around the country and called out Hawaii as a state with a number of protections in place to ensure that abortion remains safe and legal.
However, Hawaii people still face barriers when seeking abortion care. People on islands without a provider and those who live in rural and geographically isolated areas face more challenges accessing services. While Hawaii has good laws, we can do better to ensure that these laws have meaning in practice as well as policy. The recent actions in Alabama and Missouri served as a good reminder about the importance of being vigilant in protecting our rights and promoting access to life-saving care.
In the last month, Alabama essentially eliminated abortion access and threatened to imprison doctors for life if they perform the procedure, and the last abortion provider in Missouri faced losing its license due to state law. Other states, including Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Utah, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi and Iowa, have passed restrictive laws that only serve to limit women’s access to safe, legal care and force a challenge to Roe v. Wade and snap into focus the work we must do to protect safe and legal abortion.
Actions across the country in support of abortion rights and access have been taking place because of these attacks on abortion rights. In Hawaii, supporters rallied, waved signs and took action to demonstrate their support for abortion rights at the new Honolulu Planned Parenthood health center. These supporters are in the strong majority here in Hawaii and across the country.
Polling indicates that 7 in 10 Americans do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. The Pew Research Center found that 58% of all Americans say abortions “should be legal in all or most cases.” The same poll found that a clear minority — only 37% — support restricting abortion in all cases.
The AAUW and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii support increased spending for reproductive health and Title X, the nation’s only family planning program, which provides life-saving preventive care such as cancer screenings, STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing and treatment, and other critical care. We also support preventive care through the Affordable Care Act, which mandates birth control coverage. These programs, along with sex education and increased access to care will help to maintain the current historically low abortion and unintended pregnancy rate.
Access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion, is also key to achieving economic security. Preventive care and sex education, the majority of Planned Parenthood’s work, help people have control over their health, their lives, and their future.
While Hawaii’s laws protect our right to reproductive health care, legislation must be advanced to ensure those protections are fully guaranteed. The time is long overdue for people to make their voices heard and demand abortion access, reproductive health care and education, and bodily autonomy.
AAUW Honolulu Career and Leadership Development Grant recipient Amber Granite and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii state director Laurie Field penned this op-ed about a woman’s right to choose in Hawaii and what more needs to be done — especially given the current political climate.
Read it here or if you aren’t a subscriber to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, read it below.