Governor Abercrombie Signs Bill Ensuring Emergency Compassionate Care for Female Sexual Assault Victims

The rights of female sexual assault victims were strengthened today as Gov. Neil Abercrombie enacted legislation to ensure that they are provided accurate, unbiased information about and access to emergency contraception when receiving emergency medical care at Hawaii’s hospitals.

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House Bill 411, relating to “Hospital Emergency Compassionate Care for Sexual Assault Victims,” was enacted as Act 27, thereby establishing provisions that require any hospital in Hawaii to provide information about, offer and, if accepted or requested, dispense emergency contraception to a female sexual assault victim arriving for emergency services. Such services must be provided even if a female refuses to undergo a forensic examination or refuses to report the alleged sexual assault to law enforcement. Penalties are established for non-compliance.

“It is our duty as a society to ensure that any individual who has been traumatized by a sexual assault receives compassionate care, and this legislation underscores a woman’s right to choose contraception when faced with the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy resulting from a sexual assault,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Due to the commitment and persistence of many local advocates and legislators – some whose efforts extend back more than a decade – this legislation will protect the health and safety of Hawaii’s sexual assault victims and guarantee that they receive the medically accepted standard of care.”

Similar to a measure proposed by the Abercrombie Administration (HB878/SB1109), HB411 was introduced by the House Women’s Caucus, which includes Reps. Della Au Belatti, Rida T.R. Cabanilla, Mele Carroll, Faye P. Hanohano, Linda Ichiyama, Jo Jordan, Nicole E. Lowen, Sylvia Luke, Dee Morikawa, Cynthia Thielen, and Jessica Wooley.

A companion measure was also introduced in the Senate by Sens. Rosalyn Baker, Josh Green, Michelle Kidani, Donna Mercado Kim, Suzanne Chun Oakland, Maile Shimabukuro, Jill Tokuda, and Laura Thielen.

Former legislators who have championed the legislation for many years are Annelle Amaral, Marilyn Lee, Barbara Marumoto, and Hermina Morita (current chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission).

The state Attorney General’s office reported that there were 350 reported cases of forcible rape in Hawaii in 2011. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than half of all rapes are not reported to the police. The average rate of pregnancy resulting from rape is between 5 and 8 percent with an estimated 32,000 rape-related pregnancies occurring every year in the United States. Emergency contraception is considered a safe and effective means of preventing pregnancy after a sexual assault and is recognized as the standard of care for sexual assault patients.

Other bills recently signed by the Governor include:

Senate Bill 409, relating to “Mahina ‘Olelo Hawai’i” – Enacted today as Act 28, the measure was proposed by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to designate February ‘Olelo Hawai’i Month in Hawaii to celebrate and encourage the use of the Hawaiian language, an official language of the State of Hawaii. The bill was written in Hawaiian and translated into English. In February, Gov. Abercrombie proclaimed the month ‘Olelo Hawai’i Month through an executive proclamation. The measure makes the observation an official annual occurrence.

House Bill 868, relating to “Eliminating the Asset Limit Eligibility Requirement for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program” – Enacted April 18 as Act 18, the measure was proposed by the Abercrombie Administration to remove asset limit requirements that were required for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Previously, the law allowed a total of $5,000 in assets and the value of one motor vehicle in determining eligibility for financial assistance. Households must still meet income eligibility requirements. This measure encourages families to save money and build assets to enable self-sufficiency. The legislation is aligned with the Governor’s New Day objective of developing asset-building programs that fight poverty, help families move toward self-sufficiency, and support the growth of the middle class.

The state Legislature maintains a list of 2013 Acts here.

 

Women’s Legislative Caucus Unveils it’s Package for the 2012 Legislative Session

The Women’s Legislative Caucus unveiled its package for the 2012 Legislative Session. This year’s set of bills and resolutions is dedicated to women veterans. The package also includes recognition of the Fisher House Foundation, which provides free or low-cost housing to veterans and families receiving treatment at military medical centers.

The Women’s Legislative Caucus (WLC) is composed of Representatives Karen Awana, Della Au Belatti, Rida T.R. Cabanilla, Mele Carroll, Corinne W.L. Ching, Cindy Evans, Faye P. Hanohano, Sharon Har, Linda Ichiyama, Jo Jordan, Marilyn Lee, Sylvia Luke, Barbara Marumoto, Dee Morikawa, Kymberly Marcos Pine, Cynthia Thielen, and Jessica Wooley. Senators Roz Baker, Suzanne Chun Oakland, Carol Fukunaga, Michelle Kidani, Donna Mercado Kim, Pohai Ryan, Maile Shimabukuro, Malama Solomon, and Jill Tokuda represent the WLC in the Senate.

These 26 female lawmakers account for 34% of the 27th Hawai’i State Legislature, putting the state well above the national average of 23.3%.

The bills introduced this session by the WLC address women’s health, the establishment of an automated victim notification system, the amendment of birth certificates for transgendered individuals, the requirement of birth defects warnings in liquor establishments, breastfeeding in the workplace, cervical and breast cancer screenings, funding for the reintegration of female offenders from incarceration back into the community, mandatory reporting requirements concerning child abuse, and the establishment of a special fund for child assault victims.

The WLC will also be proposing resolutions urging the State and Federal governments to assist women veterans, support the establishment of a Veterans Court within the Hawaii State Circuit Court, urge the U.S. Congress to support the immediate repeal of combat exclusionary rules, and reinforce Hawaii’s congressional delegation in support of the establishment of the National Women’s History Museum.

A list of the bills and resolutions can be found here: Women’s Legislative Caucus

Women’s Legislative Caucus to Unveil 2011 Legislative Package

Media Release:

The Women’s Legislative Caucus of the Hawaii State Legislature will unveil their package of proposed bills for the 2011 session on Thursday, January 27, 2011, at 1:00 p.m., in Room 423 at the Hawaii State Capitol.  The 15 bills and five resolutions are in the priority areas of crime, corrections, healthcare, domestic abuse, and political action.  Descriptions of the proposals are listed below.

The package this year is dedicated to Dr. Tricia Wright, Founder of the Perinatal Addiction Treatment of Hawaii (PATH) program and clinic. Dr. Wright is an Assistant Professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health.  PATH works with high-risk, pregnant women including those who have unintended pregnancies, those who smoke during pregnancy, and women who binge drink or are obese prior to pregnancy.

The members of the Women’s Legislative Caucus are:

Representatives: Karen Awana, Della Au Belatti, Rida Cabanilla, Mele Carroll, Corinne Ching, Cindy Evans, Faye Hanohano, Sharon Har, Linda Ichiyama, Georgette “Jo” Jordan, Marilyn Lee, Sylvia Luke, Barbara Marumoto, Daynette “Dee” Morikawa, Hermina Morita, Kymberly Pine, Cynthia Thielen, Jessica Wooley.

Senators: Rosalyn Baker, Suzanne Chun Oakland, Carol Fukunaga, Michelle Kidani, Donna Mercado Kim, Pohai Ryan, Maile Shimabukuro, Malama Solomon, Jill Tokuda.

BILLS (15)

RELATING TO CRIME

Sexual offenses against minors; statute of limitations: Eliminates the statue of limitations for civil actions brought by persons subjected to sexual offenses as a minor.  (SEN. SHIMABUKURO)

RELATING TO LIMITATION OF ACTIONS

Parental responsibility and liability: Creates the misdemeanor offense of inadequate supervision of a minor for a parent or legal guardian who fails to exercise reasonable care, supervision, protection or control over their minor child.  (SEN. SHIMABUKURO)

RELATING TO HEALTHCARE

Compassionate care: Emergency contraception in the ER.  Requires hospitals and providers of emergency medical care to provide survivors of sexual assault with medically and factually accurate unbiased information regarding emergency contraception about sexual assault treatment options and access to emergency contraception.  (REP. M. LEE, REP. MORITA)

RELATING TO CORRECTIONS

Pregnant inmates; prohibit shackling: Prohibits physically restraining pregnant inmates, unless extraordinary circumstances exist (i.e. prevention, escaping or injuring herself or others.)  (REP. M. LEE)

RELATING TO AN AUTOMATED VICTIM NOTIFICATION SYSTEM

Requires department of public safety to establish a statewide automated victim notification system providing crime victims with current information regarding the offender’s custodial status.  (REP. M. LEE, REP. THIELEN)

RELATING TO SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION

Amends the sex offender registration law to include violation of privacy offenses, including voyeurism.  Requires registration for offenders subject to sex offender registration or notification in their jurisdiction of conviction. Repeals obsolete or unnecessary provisions. Creates a tier classification for covered offenses that are not expressed classified.  (REP. M. LEE)

PATH CLINIC APPROPRIATION

Appropriates moneys for the continued operation of the Perinatal Addiction Treatment of Hawaii program and clinic.  (REP. M. LEE)

RELATING TO DOMESTIC ABUSE ORDERS

Allows a temporary restraining order to remain in effect for 90 days or until service of a protective order, whichever occurs first.  Also amends law to provide that protective orders orally stated by the court on the record shall be effective upon service on the respondent.   (SEN. TOKUDA, SEN. KIDANI)

RELATING TO LUPUS

Requires the director of the health to establish a working group to develop a plan to increase education and awareness of lupus.  (REP. MARUMOTO)

RELATING TO CRIME

Removes statute of limitations for prosecution of rape cases.  (REP. MARUMOTO)

RELATING TO PROSTITUTION

Provides that the county may impound vehicles used in the commission of street prostitution in specified zones as established by the counties.  (REP. MARUMOTO)

RELATING TO DNA COLLECTION FOR VIOLENT CRIMES

Requires DNA collection from those arrested on violent felony charges.  While all states require DNA collection for felony convictions, most states have begun considering bills to require collection for felony arrests.  (REP. MARUMOTO)

RELATING TO THE COLLECTION OF DNA SAMPLES FROM ARRESTEES OF SEXUAL OFFENSES AGAINST MINORS

Mandates the collection of DNA samples from arrestee for sex offenses against minors. Effective July 1, 2012.  (REP. MARUMOTO)

RELATING TO EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS

Employment practices: domestic violence. Prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee or applicant for employment based upon the employee’s or the applicant’s status as a victim of domestic violence.  (SEN. BAKER)

COMMUNITY BASED REINTEGRATION PROGRAM

Requires Department of Public Safety to develop a plan to use current funding resources to improve community based programs to assist female offender’s transition back into the community.  (REP. HANOHANO)

RESOLUTIONS (5)

DECLARING THE MONTH OF MAY AS LUPUS AWARENESS MONTH IN HAWAII

While lupus can occur in men, ninety percent of the sufferers are women in their childbearing years, particularly affecting Native Hawaiian women, Pacific Island women and women of Asian descent.  People with lupus have many different symptoms, but the most common are fatigue, muscle and joint pain, skin disorders, inflammation of internal organs and inflammation of the vascular and nervous systems.  (REP. MARUMOTO)

REQUESTING THE HAWAII MEDICAL BOARD, BOARD OF PSYCHOLOGY, MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST PROGRAM, AND MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR PROGRAM TO DEVELOP EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL TO PRINT, DISPLAY, AND MAKE AVAILABLETO PATIENTS INFORMING THEM OF THE APPLICABLE ETHICAL STANDARDS RELATING TO SEXUAL BOUNDARIES IN THE PROVIDER-PATIENT RELATIONSHIP

(REP. MARUMOTO)

ENCOURAGING THE JOHN A. BURNS SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND THE SCHOOL OF NURSING AND DENTAL HYGIENE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII TO INCLUDE BREASTFEEDING IN EDUCATIONAL CURRICULUM TO EDUCATE MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS TO ADVOCATE AND PROMOTE BREASTFEEDING AMONG EXPECTANT MOTHERS

Human breast milk is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses, including diarrhea and pneumonia, which are the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide.   (REP. THIELEN)

REQUESTING THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO CONDUCT A STUDY ON WHETHER THE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES OF HAWAII’S SEX OFFENDER LAWS ARE BEING MET AND WHETHER SEX OFFENDER LAWS ARE BEING IMPLEMENTED IN THE WAY THEY WERE INTENDED

In 1996, the federal government enacted what has become known as “Megan’s Law,” requiring states to collect and release relevant information necessary to protect the public from sexual offenders.   (REP. THIELEN)

RECOGNIZING THE NEED TO REACH OUT TO HAWAII WOMEN AND ENGAGE THEM IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS

(Patsy Mink PAC) The legislature is requested to encourage women of Hawaii to actively play an important leadership role in planning and execution of legislative priorities.   (REP. ICHIYAMA)