Hawaii state lawmakers hope to make their state the next to force pregnancy care centers to promote abortion.
Twin bills in the state House and Senate would require the pro-life centers to post a pro-abortion statement in a “clear and conspicuous place” in their waiting areas or give it to women when they arrive.
The statement reads: “Hawaii has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services including all FDA-approved methods of contraception, prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the appropriate Med-QUEST division eligibility office.”
If pregnancy care centers don’t cooperate with the state-sponsored message, they face a $500 fine the first time and $1,000 “for each subsequent offense.”
In addition, women who walk in and are offended by a violation may personally sue the center. The Hawaii proposal is more strict than California’s law requiring pregnancy care centers to promote abortion, because offending centers there face fines but not civil action.
Stacey Jimenez, director of operations at A Place for Women in Waipio, a pregnancy care ministry at Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor, told me the bills would violate the center’s freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
The ministry offers Bible-study format recovery classes for women who have had abortions, and Jimenez said the bills would essentially make them tell women, “Go out, go harm yourself, and come back and we’ll help you heal.”
“We have had women come through our classes who have been infertile as a result of their abortion. And we have had women come through with emotional issues,” she said. “We shouldn’t be in a position to refer out for one of the very things that we offer recovery classes for.”
Women seeking abortion, she said, can search online for an abortion center: “Why do I have to tell them about it? We don’t do that here.”
Other state laws requiring pregnancy care centers to post or hand out information on where to get an abortion have faced court challenges with varied results.
In 2014, a Maryland county dropped a case against a pro-life pregnancy care center protesting a law requiring them—but not abortion clinics—to post signs saying no doctor was on staff.
In October, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of California’s Reproductive FACT Act, which requires pregnancy care centers to post or distribute information about where to obtain an abortion.
But in December, an Illinois judge issued a preliminary injunction against a new law requiring all healthcare providers to give out information on where to get an abortion if a patient asks. He called it “compelled speech in violation of plaintiffs’ free speech rights.”
— by Samantha Gobba