Seeking to draw comparisons with unpopular national Republicans, Hawaii Forward, the super PAC tied to the Democratic Governors Association, has released a new television advertisement that reminds voters that former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona opposes abortion rights.
"Republican Aiona believes we should outlaw abortion," the ad states, "even in cases of rape or incest, even when the health of the mother is at risk."
By comparison, the ad continues, state Sen. David Ige, the Democratic candidate for governor, favors abortion rights.
Hawaii was among the first states to legalize abortion in 1970, three years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Hawaii also gained national attention after it expanded abortion rights in 2006. Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican -- with Aiona as her lieutenant governor -- signed a bill into law that repealed a residency requirement for abortion and allowed abortions to be performed in clinics and physician's offices, not just hospitals.
Perhaps more importantly, the law prevents the state from denying or interfering with a woman's right to choose or obtain an abortion of a nonviable fetus or an abortion that is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.
The law Lingle signed stood out because the trend in many states nationally has been to restrict access to abortion.
From the Washington Post's Wonkblog last year:
That makes new legislation in California all the more significant: A law signed Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown allows more medical practitioners to perform first-trimester abortions. It also may be the first state law to expand or maintain access to the procedure since Hawaii did so in 2006 (their law keeps abortion legal in the state if the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade were to be overturned).
Unlike many states on the mainland, abortion has not been a political issue in Hawaii recently. Even if Aiona -- if he becomes governor -- wanted to outlaw abortion, there is no chance a bill would pass the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
Aiona, in a statement Friday to Hawaii News Now, said he would not try to overturn the law if elected.
"As a former judge I know how to maintain objectivity and submit to the rule of existing law. It's already been settled," Aiona told the station.