HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaiian lawmakers have advanced a bill that would allow nurses to perform abortions.
The decision on Thursday by the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee will advance the legislation to the full state House for consideration.
The measure would allow advanced practice registered nurses to end a pregnancy by medication or aspiration, a medical procedure that uses suction to conduct an abortion. Nurses must have prescriptive authority, specialize in the medical practice and have a valid license.
Though Hawaii legalized abortions in the 1970s, there is limited access to abortions in several areas of the state, where residents have to travel for the procedure, the bill said.
Hawaii would join 12 other states that allow nurses to perform abortions.
A six-year study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco found that first trimester abortions performed by nurses had safe outcomes.
Hawaii Life Alliance, which opposes the bill, cited concerns that the law would increase the number of abortions.
“We strongly urge you to prevent this from happening by making it clear that it is not within the scope or independence of practice of lower health care professional to provide abortion,” the organization said in its testimony.
Planned Parenthood, which testified in support of the bill, said that people on Maui have access to an abortion provider only twice each month and the provider must fly in from another island. Hawaii Island has only one abortion provider, the organization said.
“Being forced to travel, particularly by air or by ferry, to reach care can be an insurmountable barrier for people who already face systemic barriers to care, especially survivors of intimate partner violence, people of color, people with low incomes, people who live in rural communities and young people,” Planned Parenthood said in its testimony.