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Hawaii governor signs legislation allowing nurses to perform abortions

Hawaii governor signs legislation allowing nurses to perform abortions

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) signed legislation on Monday that would allow some nurses in the state to perform abortions.

As The Associated Press reports, the law allows advanced practice registered nurses to prescribe medication that ends pregnancies as well as perform aspiration abortion in the first trimester.

Aspiration abortions are a type of surgery in which a vacuum is used to empty a woman's uterus, and under the Hawaii law could be performed in a hospital, clinic or nurse’s office, the AP reports. Other states that allow these nurses to perform such abortions include: California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia.

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Prior legislation had mandated that only physicians could perform early in-clininc abortions, but many smaller islands lack the providers necessary to perform the procedure. The islands of Kauai, Molokai and Lanai have recently lacked abortion care providers, the outlet notes, with one provider in Maui having to fly to other islands twice a month.

“This act will enable people who desperately need reproductive health care services to receive health care from very high quality health care providers, including advanced practice registered nurses, where they need it, when they need it, and ... in their own communities,” director of the Hawaii State Center for Nursing Laura Reichardt said at the bill signing ceremony.

Advanced practice registered nurses have obtained at least a master’s degree and are trained to diagnose patient problems and prescribe medications, the AP notes.

The legislation signed by Ige cited studies that found abortions are safe when performed by qualified licensed health care providers who are not physicians.

The AP notes that Hawaii has a history of favoring abortion rights, becoming the first state in the U.S. to allow an abortion at a woman’s request.