Hawaii committee OKs proposed constitutional amendment on abortion

Hawaii's Senate Judiciary Committee moved forward a bill on Friday that would allow voters to decide on a constitutional amendment on reproductive rights following a U.S. Supreme Court decision in July that struck down a decades-old decision on abortion.

The ballot question proposed by Senate Bill 1167 "Shall the Constitution be amended to state that no law shall be enacted that denies or interferes with an individual's reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, including the fundamental right to abortion and contraceptives?"

Hawaii legalized abortion in 1970, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that allowed abortions in all 50 states.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology testified in favor of the bill.

"While Hawaii has been a long-time leader in reproductive health care rights, the landscape in the rest of the country is rapidly changing," the organization said in written testimony. "Since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health decision by the United States Supreme Court in June 2022 that overturned almost fifty years of a national constitutional right to abortion, several states have passed laws banning or highly restricting access to abortion. It is critical that we act to protect our rights."

Bishop Larry Silva of the Roman Catholic Church in the State of Hawaii asked the committee not to recommend the bill.

"We believe in protecting life at every age in every stage and are extremely troubled by the broad language in the bill referencing 'reproductive freedom,'" Silva said in written testimony. "Usage of such a broad term paves the way for unregulated abortion, commercial surrogacy, and sterilizing gender transition surgeries."

Republican Sen. Brenton Awa and Democratic Sen. Mike Gabbard voted against the bill.

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