The House of Representatives yesterday paved the way for Hawaii to become the first state in the nation to repeal its abortion law.
The repeal bill passed by a 31-20 vote and is expected to breeze through the Senate on Tuesday.
The current law says a woman may get an abortion only when her life is in danger.
The bill would repeal this and make abortion a matter of conscience between a woman and her physician.
That may have been the law, but it seems it hasn't been enforced. Here's what the respected Guttmacher Institute has to say about abortion in Hawaii:
• In 2005, there were 39 abortion providers in Hawaii. This represents a 24% decrease from 2000, when there were 51 abortion providers.
• In 2005, 20% of Hawaii counties had no abortion provider. 0% of Hawaii women lived in these counties. In the West census region, where Hawaii is located, 18% of women having abortions traveled at least 50 miles, and 5% traveled more than 100 miles.
• In Hawaii, no metropolitan area lacks an abortion provider.
* Hawaii does not have any of the major types of abortion restrictions—such as waiting periods, mandated parental involvement or limitations on publicly funded abortions—often found in other states.
Goodness. Hawaii -- with the notable exception of the weather -- seems quite Canuck-like. It has employer-paid health insurance, even for part-time workers.
Imee Gallardo, 24, has been scooping ice cream at a Häagen-Dazs shop at Waikiki Beach for five years, and during that time the shop has done something its counterparts on the mainland rarely do: it has paid for her health care.
Ms. Gallardo cannot imagine any other system.
“I wouldn’t get coverage on the mainland?” Ms. Gallardo asked. “Even if I worked? Why?”
Since 1974, Hawaii has required all employers to provide relatively generous health care benefits to any employee who works 20 hours a week or more. If health care legislation passes in Congress, the rest of the country may barely catch up.
Lawmakers working on a national health care fix have much to learn from the past 35 years in Hawaii, President Obama’s native state.
But will they? Unlikely.