Guam's abortion ban bill awaits governor's action
Updated: Dec 18, 2022
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Guam Heartbeat Act of 2022, which passed the 36th Guam Legislature on a split vote, is headed to the governor’s desk where it is anticipated to get the thumbs down.
Senators on Friday voted 8-7 along party lines on Sen. Telena Nelson’s Bill 291-36 which would prohibit abortion for women who are in their fifth or sixth week of pregnancy. The bill would clear the way for a citizen-led civil action against those who perform the procedure.
Sen. Mary Torres was the only Republican who voted against the polarizing bill.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has repeatedly declared her pro-choice position, vowing to veto any bill that would ban abortion.
The 36th Guam Legislature, which will hold its final session on Dec. 29, will need 10 votes to override the governor's anticipated veto of Bill 291-36.
In her opening statement prior to voting, Nelson said, “The contemporary medical science that was not available decades ago, on the decision of Roe v. Wade, demonstrates that early infants in the womb are a class of living, distinct human beings."
Fr. Romeo Convocar, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Agaña, welcomed the legislature’s action on Bill 291-36.
“The archdiocese is grateful that members of the out-going 36th Guam Legislature voted on Bill 291-36 today and that it has passed,” Convocar said in a statement released by the church following the vote.
“We extend heartfelt gratitude to the courageous senators who voted for its passage. We thank all lawmakers who actively engaged in dialogue with the community, listened and then acted on this issue,” the vicar general added.
With Roe v. Wade being lifted and the power to prohibit or allow abortion placed on individual states and jurisdictions, Convocar said the church switches its focus to Public Law 20-134, which was passed in 1990 with the unanimous backing of all 21 senators.
The legislative findings of Public Law 20-134 reads: “The Legislature finds that for purposes of this Act life of every human being begins at conception and that unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being. The purpose of this Act is to protect the unborn children of Guam."