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Court asked to lift permanent injunction on Guam's 1990 anti-abortion law

Updated: Feb 2, 2023


Douglas Moylan

By Pacific Island Times News Staff


Attorney General Douglas Moylan on Wednesday petitioned the federal court to lift the permanent injunction on a 1990 law that sought to ban abortion on Guam.


“Because there is no longer a legal basis to support the injunction, it must be vacated and the case dismissed with prejudice,” Moylan stated in a motion asking the District Court of Guam to remove the barrier to the implementation of Public Law 201-34.


Moylan argued that the two U.S. Supreme Court doctrines which were the basis for the permanent injunction on P.L. 20-134 have since been overruled


“The doctrinal underpinnings of the permanent injunction in this case were predicated on the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, which held that the Constitution confers upon women a constitutionally protected right to an abortion in certain circumstances. But Roe and its progeny (Planned Parenthood v Casey) are no longer the law,” Moylan said.


P.L. 20-134 declared that “the life of every human being begins at conception, and that unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.”


In 1990, the District Court of Guam declared P.L. 20-134 unconstitutional, and therefore void. The decision was based on a lawsuit filed by the Guam Society of Obstetricians against the government of Guam


The law also appropriated funds for Guam’s Commission on Election to conduct a referendum asking voters to decide whether they approved of the abortion ban.


Despite the provision for a referendum, the law was immediately implemented, prompting Guam’s Society of Obstetricians to sue the government on their behalf and that of their women patients.


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P.L. 20-134 resurfaced last year following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overrule Roe last year.


The Supreme Court held that the Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each state from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority.”


The court declared that policy decisions on abortion must be left to individual states.


“Consequently Public Law 20-134 suffers no constitutional infirmity under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or the First Amendment. The permanent injunction must be vacated and the complaint must be dismissed with prejudice,” Moylan said.


The attorney general is the only necessary party-defendant in this case, Moylan said.



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