The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturns 50 years of precedent that protected a person’s right to choose to have an abortion; here in Hawaiʻi, that right is still protected by state law and by the state Constitution. Let’s be clear: abortion is still legal in Hawaiʻi. However, equally clear is that, even though it is legal in Hawaiʻi, abortion and healthcare access remains inaccessible to many people, especially people who are poor, people who live in rural areas or on islands without easily accessible clinics, and for Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Indigenous people and people of color who already experience significant health disparities. The decision today will affect these people the most.
The Supreme Court decision today also goes beyond just abortion: it also puts many other fundamental rights on the chopping block. The decision implies that, because certain rights are not specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, they may not be guaranteed: such rights could include the right to same-sex marriage, access to birth control, and potentially much more. That’s why the decision is so dangerous, beyond just the way it is gutting people’s right to choose to have an abortion.
The ACLU of Hawaiʻi has historically been on the forefront of fighting to protect the right to abortion, such as suing the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on behalf of abortion and medical providers back in 2017 for its unconstitutional restrictions on where and how patients can access mifepristone, a medication used for early abortion and miscarriage care. The FDA just last year repealed such restriction, pressured by our lawsuit. Going forward, although the right to abortion is currently protected by law in Hawaiʻi, the ACLU of Hawaiʻi will be vigilantly watching to make sure that not only remains the case, but also that access to it becomes more equitable.
– Hilary Rosenthal, Staff Attorney