Hawaii Senate OKs emergency contraception bill

Published: Mar. 6, 2013 at 2:19 PM HST
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Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - The Hawaii state Senate has voted for a bill that would require hospital emergency rooms to offer emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault.

The bill passed Tuesday but not without debate.

Republican Sen. Sam Slom tried and failed to amend the bill to allow hospitals to claim a religious exemption instead of distributing the morning-after pill.

Slom told lawmakers the bill is an example of the state trampling on religious rights.

Sen. Josh Green urged lawmakers to reject Slom's amendment.

The Democrat says the issue isn't about religious freedom but rather about providing quality care.

The state attorney general says there were 353 reported rapes in Hawaii in 2011.

Slom's amendment was easily defeated by the overwhelmingly Democratic state Senate.

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

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