By Rep. Marilyn Lee.
The following was published by Honolulu Civil Beat on June 14, 2011
I felt a sense of pride reading a recent letter to the editor in a Honolulu newspaper from Marci A. Hamilton of the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York.
She wrote, “For the sake of Hawaii’s children, Governor Neil Abercrombie should sign into law Senate Bill 217, which opens the court house door for victims of childhood sexual abuse who have been excluded by unfairly short statutes of limitations.”
Yes, SB 217 is just one of the bills passed this year as part of the legislative package of the Women’s Legislative Caucus that will make a significant difference in our state. Yes, Hawaii is again leading the way.
Other bills passed as part of the package are SB 229, which will protect the rights of victims of domestic violence related to employment status. Introduced over and over for several years, the bill finally passed with certain protections for employers included.
Another victory is the passage of SB 219 which prohibits the shackling or restraint of incarcerated women in labor or who are pregnant. Endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, this bill puts us in the company of a very few progressive states which have passed such humane measures.
The concept of House bill 968 is another measure, though not the exact bill in our package, that assists victims by plugging up a loophole in our TRO procedures, protecting victims of domestic violence from a lapse in protection.
Two resolutions complete the successes: HR9 “RECOGNIZING THE NEED TO REACH OUT TO HAWAII WOMEN AND ENGAGE THEM IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS” and HCR 4 “DECLARING THE MONTH OF MAY AS LUPUS AWARENESS MONTH IN HAWAII” passed one or both houses.
Still, we are disappointed that a bill which would protect and assist the victims of the violent crime of rape sits in committee. The bill which would require all Hawaii hospitals to provide rape victims with information and emergency contraception has been introduced yearly for a decade without success.
In addition, we are saddened we were not able to obtain an appropriation to continue the work of the Path Clinic which assists addicted mothers who are pregnant to recover and deliver healthy babies.
We won’t give up. Many times our issues are relegated to the end of calendar or not considered, however, we are thankful to the committee chairs and legislators who have been supportive, never faltered, and made a difference for women and children in Hawaii.