300 participate in Maui rally for abortion rights
A rally on Maui in support of abortion rights drew an estimated 300 participants along Kaʻahumanu Avenue in Kahului on Saturday morning.
Kelli Swan who helped to organize the Maui event, led a number of chants, calling out: “What do we want? Choice. When do we want it? Always.”
“We’re just a bunch of women who are pissed off that we’re even talking about this 50 years later. This is ridiculous,” said Swan, noting that there were men who also came out in support of the women in their lives.
The sentiment was shared by sign-holders who raised messages like: “Really! After 50 years, I have to do this,” “My arms are tired from holding this since the 1960s,” “My great-granddaughter deserves more,” and “We’ve come a long way. We’re not going back. Uphold Roe v. Wade.”
It’s one of at least four events held across the state today as allied groups joined in a day of action to support abortion access and reproductive freedom for women. Other rallies were planned in Hilo, Kona, and on Oʻahu.
The Maui event included members of the nationwide “Bans Off Our Bodies” effort, which is comprised of members from the Women’s March, UltraViolet, Planned Parenthood, and MoveOn, in partnership with SEIU, ACLU, NARAL, and Liberate Abortion.
It’s part of a nationwide response after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion revealed the court may overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion across the nation. If it is overturned, organizers of a similar event on Hawaiʻi Island said, “it would eliminate constitutional protections for abortion rights — a move that would likely lead 26 states to swiftly ban abortion.”
“Think about your daughters,” Swan said at the Maui event, as she got a little choked up at the thought of her own 15- and 19-year-old children. “I didn’t even imagine, at their age, that I would have to be out here, today, fighting for their rights–the rights that I’ve had my whole 44 years of life.”
She continued, “Now my daughter stands to have her rights striped away from her and eventually possibly her livelihood if she can’t afford to give birth to a child, or raise a child, or possibly issues with the pregnancy, and if she had health issues and cannot carry a child. How do we have a right to do that? We don’t. Women should have a right to choose, period.”
Governor David Ige last week addressed the issue during a media briefing, noting Hawaiʻi was the first state to legalize abortion. “I do know there is overwhelming support in our community for a woman’s right to choose. So based on my cursory review of the leaked draft, they certainly would be overturning Roe v. Wade, but really allowing the states to determine appropriate access to abortion and family planning services.” He noted that state law currently provides access.
On Wednesday, US Senators voted 49-51 on the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 that would have codified Roe v. Wade into law. Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono of Hawaiʻi joined all but one of their Democratic colleagues in support of the bill.
“Abortion access is something that needs to be legal and equally accessible for all,” said Shannon Matson, Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi and a resident of Hawaiʻi Island in a Democratic Party press release. “Even in Hawaiʻi where abortion is legal, neighbor island residents face limited access that in some cases make it just as challenging to access these necessary services as states that are passing laws to make it illegal.”