Hawaii Governor David Ige signed legislation this week that allows nurses to perform abortions in an effort to make up for the “lack of abortionists” in the state.
“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,” bill HB 576 reads.
“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.
The bill also went on to say that a lack of abortionists causes the health and economic security of Hawaii residents to suffer from “unnecessary travel, long wait times, high costs, and delays to time-sensitive care.”
In 1970, Hawaii was the first state in the country to legalize abortion-on-demand.
Laura Reichardt, the director of the Hawaii State Center for Nursing, said, “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.”
The new law allows advanced practice registered nurses to perform aspiration abortion. An aspiration abortion, also called a suction abortion, is when a vacuum sucks the fetus out of the mother’s womb through the cervix. This type of procedure can be performed in a hospital, clinic, or nurse’s office. It is often recommended due to the relatively low risk of health complications for the mother.
The new law states that the purpose of the bill 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.”