Hawaii’s Democratic governor issues order bolstering abortion protections in state

Hawaii’s Democratic governor moved to strengthen abortion protections in the state on Tuesday, issuing an executive order prohibiting officials on the islands from cooperating with states attempting to prosecute people who received the procedure legally in his state.

“I am issuing an executive order protecting women who seek reproductive healthcare in Hawaii and medical professionals who provide it,” Gov. David Ige said in a news conference.

“We will not cooperate with any other state that tries to prosecute women who receive abortion in Hawaii and we will not cooperate with any other state that tries to sanction medical professionals who provide abortions in Hawaii,” he said.

A number of Democratic-led states have made similar moves in recent months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June in a decision that led to the procedure being banned or severely restricted in some places.

Abortion is legal in Hawaii before a fetus is considered viable, which most experts say occurs at around 23-24 weeks of pregnancy, and state law says the state cannot “deny or interfere with a female’s right to choose or obtain an abortion of a nonviable fetus” or an abortion that would protect the life or health of the patient.

Ige’s executive order bars state agencies from sharing medical records and other information with inquiries or investigations from other states seeking to penalize providing or obtaining reproductive health services. The order blocks the state from extraditing Hawaii abortion providers and patients sought by another state for lawful abortion services in Hawaii. That provision would not apply if the individual in question had fled to Hawaii after being present in the other state “at the time of the the commission of the alleged offense.”

Additionally, the order directs the state’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to work with medical professional licensing boards to consider policies ensuring abortion providers won’t face professional punishment in Hawaii if they performed an abortion in a state where it is illegal “so long as the services provided would have been lawful and consistent with standards for good professional practice” in Hawaii.

Ige’s office said in a release that governors in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have also enacted similar protections.

Last month, California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a slate of bills aimed at protecting and expanding access to abortion in the state, including ones that prohibit the Golden State from assisting investigators in states where abortion is illegal in their probes into patients and providers.

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