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Hawaii Joins Other States In Opposing Limits On Abortion, Birth Control

Casey Harlow/Hawaii Public Radio

Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors is siding with states opposing a Kentucky law that imposes criminal and civil penalties on doctors who perform abortions using a commonly used procedure for women after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In joining an amicus brief in a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Connors said the restrictions are unconstitutional because it bans a safe and common procedure available to women.

"Hawaii joined this amicus brief because of its long-standing commitment to defending [a] woman's access to healthcare," the attorney general said in a news release on Wednesday.

Separately, Hawaii is joining a coalition of 15 attorneys general calling on the Trump Administration to stop blocking access to free birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

In October 2017, the administration issued rules allowing most employers to deny women cost-free birth control under the ACA. Two months later, California and other states won an injunction blocking the rules. About a year later, the administration again issued rules to deny access to birth control under the act and that was halted by another injunction.

The court injunctions, however, did not stop the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Labor from stating on their websites that employers can choose not to provide contraceptive coverage, according to the attorney general's release.

The administration also has not told the public about court decisions and the availability of birth control under the Affordable Care Act, the coalition of attorneys general say.

The Trump Administration has said it doesn't believe it is feasible to address the issue raised by employers who object on religious or moral grounds to covering contraceptives while ensuring women get full access to birth control services, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The administration instead suggests eligible women get contraceptive services at clinics supported by federal Title X funds. But clinics cannot perform abortions or talk about the procedure as conditions for the funding.

In challenging the Kentucky law, the attorneys general said the penalties facing doctors would require them to terminate pregnancies using more risky procedures than the standard dilation and evacuation method. 

The attorneys general's opposition to both the Kentucky law and Trump Administration rules comes as new figures released Wednesday show the number of abortions in the U.S. have hit their lowest numbers since the procedure began legal in 1973.

The abortion rate has even dropped in states that have protected abortion access, including Hawaii, California and New Hampshire, the Associated Press reported.

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