Hawaii Senate approves bill requiring pregnancy centers to refer women to abortion clinics

(Wikimedia Commons/Ben Schumin)A pro-life group is symbolically gagged during a vigil in front of the Supreme Court in Washington DC.

The Hawaii Senate approved a bill that would require pregnancy resource centers to refer women to clinics that perform abortions.

SB 501 was passed last week by the Democrat-controlled Senate by a vote of 22–3, according to PJ Media. The legislation would require pregnancy centers with limited services to provide information about the availability and enrollment procedures for reproductive health services.

Rev. Derald Skinner, a pastor at Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor, expressed his concern about the bill because a pro-life pregnancy center is housed inside his church.

"They want to mandate all pro-life centers to put an abortion referral sign in our reception areas," Skinner said in a video published on the church's Vimeo account.

"Now our particular pro-life center is in our church. So it's very important to realize that they are dictating to us what we can and cannot say. Will they give me my sermon next and tell me what I can preach?" he added.

Under the legislation, pregnancy centers are required to post a sign or distribute flyers that advertise state-funded abortions.

Part of the notice would read: "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."

Pregnancy centers that refuse to comply would be fined $500 for the first violation and $1,000 for future infractions.

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii submitted a testimony in favor of the bill, claiming that pro-life pregnancy centers offer "biased, misleading, and false" health information.

The legislation would apply to all five of Hawaii's pregnancy resource centers, three of which submitted testimony against the bill. However, the testimonies were not posted in time for the committee vote. The bill has been sent to the Hawaii House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.

Thomas Glessner, an attorney who heads the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, described the measure as an "egregious violation of religious freedom." He said he is working with the Alliance Defending Freedom to challenge the legislation before the Supreme Court.

Similar laws have been passed in California and Illinois. The constitutionality of the California law was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in October.

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