HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii is one of 16 states in the country protecting abortion rights, but experts said the law is not infallible and there is still much the state needs to do to provide equitable access to women.
Hawaii’s State Constitution protects a woman’s right to have an abortion, but Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director for the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, still has concerns.
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“We’re really on our own now, is what this means,” Jabola-Carolus said. “It’s up to us here, at the local level in Hawaii, to protect the right to abortion. So that leaves us feeling very vulnerable.”
While the State Constitution safeguards abortion laws, it can be changed, according to former Attorney General Doug Chin.
“If the political winds ever shifted here over time, then Hawaii could have the ability to be able to either change their constitution or change their laws in order to be able to outlaw something like abortion,” explained Chin.
Chin said the chance of that happening is unlikely.
But he said the United States Federal Government could withhold funding causing problems for states trying to uphold specific laws.
Hawaii was the first state in the country to make abortions legal in 1970 — several years before the Supreme Court adopted Roe v. Wade — and the majority of Hawaii’s lawmakers are pushing to protect that right.
U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D) released a statement regarding the ruling:
“Today is a horrific day in America. The Supreme Court was confronted with a fundamental question: who should have control over a woman’s body, a woman or a bunch of politicians… Women are going to suffer and die because of this decision. Republicans are going to have to answer for this in November.”
In a statement, Gov. David Ige said:
“Today’s extreme U.S. Supreme Court ruling is outrageous and a huge step backward for women’s rights. Despite the ruling, I can assure you that women in Hawaii will continue to have access to the healthcare they need.”
Women’s rights advocates said there is still a long way to go.
“For example, private insurers can deny coverage for abortion, which is very expensive for women here in Hawaii,” said Jabola-Carolus. “So we are not by any means a sanctuary for abortion.”
In a statement Rebecca Gibron, of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky said:
“It is my promise to every person in Hawaii that Planned Parenthood will never back down. We will keep fighting with everything we’ve got to ensure that everyone can access the care you need to control your body and your life.”
There are concerns overturning Roe v. Wade is just the beginning after Justice Clarence Thomas said the Supreme Court “should reconsider” past rulings regarding birth control, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.
Even though this is the opinion of one justice, Chin said others could adopt that mindset.
“What these justices say, it really does matter,” Chin explained. “And it affects how laws are passed within the different states. And it affects people’s mindsets about what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.”
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“I think that it’s scary, that the right to physical integrity is not valued,” Jabola-Carolus said.