Hawaii Gives Green Light for Nurses to Perform Abortions

A procedure room is seen during a tour and event at Whole Woman’s Health of San Antonio, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in San Antonio. The Supreme Court will soon hear Whole Woman's Health’s challenge to HB2, Texas legislation that requires all abortion facilities to meet heightened requirements by becoming ambulatory …
AP Photo/Eric Gay

Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed legislation Monday allowing nurses to perform abortions to compensate for a lack of abortionists on the islands.

“The legislature finds that Hawaii has many qualified licensed health care providers, including advanced practice registered nurses, who can safely and effectively provide abortion care,” reads the bill HB 576. “However, the legislature also finds that Hawaii’s current laws restrict any health care provider other than physicians from providing medication or aspiration abortion care.”

“Consequently, numerous Hawaii residents live on an island without, or with limited access to, an abortion care provider,” it states.

A shortage of abortionists means the health and economic security of Hawaii’s residents is suffering from “unnecessary travel, long wait times, high costs, and delays to time-sensitive care,” it adds.

In 1970, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to legalize abortion-on-demand.

“This act will enable people who desperately need reproductive health care services to receive health care from very high-quality health care providers, including advanced practice registered nurses, where they need it, when they need it,” said Laura Reichardt, the director of the Hawaii State Center for Nursing, during the bill-signing ceremony.

The new law allows advanced practice registered nurses to perform aspiration abortion, which employs a vacuum to suck the fetus out of her mother’s womb through the cervix. An aspiration or suction abortion, a procedure pioneered in China, may be performed in a hospital, clinic, or nurse’s office and is often recommended due to the relatively low probability of health complications for the mother.

The purpose of this Act is “to lift the burdensome and medically unnecessary physician-only restriction on performing certain abortion care procedures to ensure that all people in Hawaii can equally access abortion care, no matter their income or where they live, by authorizing licensed advanced practice registered nurses to perform medication or aspiration abortions,” the new law states.

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