Guam governor vetoes anti-abortion bill
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero today vetoed the Guam Heartbeat Act of 2022,
saying the proposed abortion ban would send women back to the "dark days" of "back-alley" procedures.
"While many of us mourn the sudden and shocking reversal of rights that are widely regarded as fundamental to the wholeness of every woman, it falls upon us, as a community, to determine whether these rights are worth protecting," the governor said in her veto message.
Sen. Telena Nelson’s Bill 291-36, which would have prohibited abortions in the fifth week of pregnancy, passed the 36th Guam Legislature on an 8-7 vote.
"I ask the 36th Guam Legislature to sustain my veto of this bill, consistent with the will of our constituents, and I urge the senators who voted in favor of this bill to search their hearts for compassion toward women that is absent from both the spirit and the text of this bill," the governor said.
The legislature needs 10 votes to override the governor's veto.
Father Romeo Convocar, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Agaña, said the timing of the governor's action was ironic.
"The decision of Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to veto Bill 291-36 which would give life to the Guam Heartbeat Act of 2022 comes on this particular day, the Feast of the Holy Innocents," Convocar said. "The feast commemorates the young children in Bethlehem who were massacred by King Herod of Judea in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus."
The Guam Heartbeat Act, modeled after the Texas law that bans abortions after the detection of embryonic or fetal cardiac, was one of the most polarizing proposals in the legislature.
Leon Guerrero has repeatedly vowed to veto any bill that would restrict abortion on Guam.
"As a young nurse, I assisted in the treatment of women whose desperate circumstances led them to pursue dangerous 'back a1ley' abortions, at great risk to their lives," the governor said.
"I cannot fathom returning to those dark days. Mindful of the nuances and complexities inherent in every pregnancy, I refuse to support any measure that fails to even acknowledge the liberty and equality interests of the citizens affected by it, and imposes government control over women's bodies, lives, and, ultimately, their futures. I refuse to reduce women to their wombs," she added.
The bill would also have cleared the way for a citizen-led civil action against those who perform the procedure.
"The incentivized vigilantism of this already deeply-flawed bill is reprehensible. Seeking to turn brother against brother, and sister against sister, the enforcement mechanism of this bill appeals to one of our most base tendencies as human beings: greed," the governor said.
The church has been pushing for the bill's enactment.
"We, the Catholic Church on Guam affirm the rights of all human beings to live, breathe and prosper in this beautiful world endowed to us by our Creator. Life begins from the moment of conception to natural death and the moral laws of God obligate each of us to protect all life, especially the most vulnerable in the womb and the fragile elderly and infirmed," Convocar said.
"We pray for the Holy Spirit to fill the hearts, minds and souls of our civic leaders and lawmakers sitting in office today and in the future that they be moved to understand that no matter the circumstances, the killing of innocent unborn children must not be promoted, enabled or condoned. We are taught as a people to value the lives of those who are most helpless and weakest among us. The unborn babies that are unable to speak, that cannot flee, and cannot raise their arms to defend themselves against attackers rely on the rest of us to protect them.
"We pray for all elected leaders of Guam to promote, pass and uphold laws that protect life," Convocar said/