State lawmakers on Friday took action to fortify abortion laws in Hawaii.

Senate Bill 2282 would clear up a section of the law that allows advanced practice registered nurses to perform abortions. Last year, lawmakers gave those nurses the ability to perform abortions. SB 2282 removes a line from the law that restricts nurses from performing abortions after the first trimester of pregnancy.

The bill also clarifies that abortion rights are not only extended to females but also transgender and gender non-binary individuals.

The measure also lowers certain criminal penalties for violating state abortion laws.

The Senate Health Committee voted 4-1 to advance SB 2282 on Friday. Republican Sen. Kurt Fevella was the lone no vote.

Planned Parenthood.
Lawmakers are considering a bill that would let advanced practice registered nurses perform abortions. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019

“Even here in Hawaii, where we proudly support the right to abortion, too many meaningful people do not have access to care,” Rachel Kuenzi, a policy analyst for Planned Parenthood, told lawmakers.

Kuenzi called the measure a “housekeeping bill” that can protect people by giving clarity to who has access to abortion care as well as protecting nurses who practice these procedures.

No opponents of the bill testified in-person during hearings last week. In total, 45 individuals and organizations sent in written testimony in support of SB 2282 while only two individuals wrote to oppose the measure, Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, the health committee chairman, said.

One individual expressed how religion reflects a differing viewpoint.

“Those in government who support abortion are responsible for the murders of the children that have been taken as a result of their policies,” Honolulu resident Dara Carlin said in written testimony. “Knowing this, you can see why whole nations are not guided by righteousness.”

SB 2282 still needs to clear another committee hearing before moving to a vote by the full Senate. If the bill clears those hurdles, it will move to the House for further consideration.

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