LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVES DEBATE ATTACKS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
From Hawaii Family Forum March 6, 2013
Both the House and Senate voted on bills on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, that would establish standards of care for victims of sexual assault. To be clear, the Hawaii Family Forum, Hawaii Family Advocates, and the Hawaii Catholic Conference strongly supports the compassionate care of women who have experienced this horrendous and violent assault. The two bills (HB 411 HD2 and SB 1109 SD2) however, are problematic because they do not offer a religious exemption for institutions (like a hospital that is religious or follows religious directives) or individuals who work in an emergency room who also have strong religious concerns.
HB 411 HD 2 and SB 1109 SD2 passed their respective chamber votes. Both bills state in the preamble that the emergency contraceptive "is not an abortion pill" and "is not an abortifacient." That seemingly simple, and untrue statement, nullifies any protection that a federal conscience exemption might have provided. Both chambers debated floor amendments that would have provided conscience protection and all attempts at an amendment to add conscience protections failed. 9 courageous legislators stood in strong defense of religious freedom and we applaud them!
Here is how your legislators voted on the issue:
SENATE (SB 1109 SD2)
Out of 25 Senate members, only Senator(s) Slom & Gabbard voted against the bill because it did not provide a conscience exemption; however a floor amendment regarding religious protections for institutions was offered by Senator Slom and seconded by Senator Gabbard, but the amendment failed.
HOUSE (HB 411 HD2)
Out of 51 House members, only Representative(s) Cheape, Fale, Fukumoto, Har, Johanson, McDermott and Ward voted against the bill because there was no religious exemption included. Two Representatives, Aquino and Cullen, were excused so they did not vote.
Representative(s) Fale and McDermott proposed floor amendments that would add religious protections for individuals and religious institutions. The proposed amendment(s) failed because only the same seven named above voted for them.
ACTION: We encourage you to contact these 9 members and thank them for standing strong in support of religious freedom. These courageous members stand in solidarity with people of faith in their RIGHT to practice their deeply held religious beliefs without government interference or coercion. You can easily click their email to send a message. Although we have added introductory text, please use your own words to express your appreciation for their vote!
Representative Lauren Cheape (Schofield, Mokuleia, Waialua, Kunia, Waipio Acres and Mililani)
Phone: 586-9490 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Richard Fale (Waialua, Haleiwa, Pupukea, Kahuku, Laie)
Phone: 586-6380 | email@example.com
Representative Beth Fukumoto (Mililani Mauka, Mililani)
Phone: 586-9460 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Sharon Har (Kapolei, Makakilo)
Phone: 586-8500 | email@example.com
Representative Aaron Johanson (Moanlua, Red Hill, Foster Village, Aiea, Fort Shafter, Aliamanu, Lower Pearlridge)
Phone: 586-9470 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Bob McDermott (Ewa, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Iroquois Point)
Phone: 586-9730 | email@example.com
Representative Gene Ward (Hawaii Kai, Kalama Valley)
Phone: 586-6420 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Sam Slom (Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina, Waialae-Kahala, Diamond Head)
Phone: 586-8420 | email@example.com
Senator Mike Gabbard (Kapolei, Makakilo and portions of Ewa)
Phone: 586-6830 | firstname.lastname@example.org