Hawaii's legislature is advancing a bill that, if enacted, would compel pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion or face a fine as high as $1,000.
House Bill 663 and its companion Senate Bill 501 are making their way through the state legislature, with the House Committee on Health voting 4-3 on Tuesday to recommend passage of the bill with amendments.
According to section 321-A of the House version, a "limited service pregnancy center" will have to provide to its clientele the following written notice: "Hawaii has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services including all FDA-approved methods of contraception, prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the appropriate Med-QUEST division eligibility office."
"The notice shall contain the internet address for online medical assistance applications, the statewide phone number for medical assistance applications, and the physical address, mailing address, telephone number, and fax number for the appropriate Med-QUEST division eligibility office for the geographic area in which the center is located," continued the bill.
"Any person who is aggrieved by a limited service pregnancy center's violation of section 321-A may bring a civil action against the limited service pregnancy center in the district court of the district in which the center is located to enjoin further violations and to recover actual damages sustained together with the costs of the suit including reasonable attorneys' fees."
Hawaii is not the first state to consider such legislation. In 2015, California overwhelmingly passed Assembly Bill 775, which also demanded that pregnancy centers including those overseen by pro-life groups promote abortion.
"The notice shall state: 'California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women,'" read AB 775 in part.
As with Hawaii's HB 663, failure to comply with AB 775 can result in a fine, specifically a $500 fine on the first offense and then a $1,000 fine for each offense thereafter.
Jor-El Godsey, president of the pro-life group Heartbeat International, has denounced the Hawaiian legislation as an attack on crisis pregnancy centers.
"This is another shameless attempt by the well-funded abortion industry to leverage the coercive power of the state on behalf of its own interests," stated Godsey, as reported by National Right to Life News.
"It's clear that some, even within the Hawaiian legislature, see the promotion of abortion as an absolute good — even if it costs citizens their free speech and women their choice in the midst of an unexpected pregnancy."