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Guam Supreme Court: 1990 abortion ban is dead law

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

A 1990 statute that sought to impose a total ban on abortion on Guam is void, the Supreme Court of Guam ruled once and for all, rejecting Attorney General Douglas Moylan's petition for the lifting of the permanent injunction on the law.

The high court determined that the 1990 ban could not be harmonized with later-enacted laws, including laws requiring parental consent and informed consent for abortion, and has, therefore been repealed. Chief Justice Robert J. Torres penned the opinion issued on Oct. 31.

“This is a landmark decision for our island. While abortion services on Guam have tapered over the years due to the lack of providers, this decision preserves existing authorization under Guam law that has been in effect for decades,” said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, who is pro-choice.

“More immediately, it ensures our people can continue to receive advice from their doctors regarding the difficult decision of whether to terminate a pregnancy," she added.

The Guam Supreme Court held that Guam Public Law 20-134, a sweeping ban on abortion passed by the Guam Legislature in 1990, was repealed by implication by subsequent acts of the Legislature and has no force or effect in Guam.

“Today’s decision upholds the rule of law on our island and protects our people from political maneuvers seeking to impose stale laws on the choices we have made as a community in recent decades,” Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio said. “Most importantly, it restores power to our families to make important decisions for their futures.”

Justice F. Phillip Carbullido additionally provided his opinion that, though the majority did not reach the issue, he believed the Guam Legislature exceeded its Organic Act authority in passing P.L. 20-134, rendering the law void at its inception.

In his petition, Moylan argued that with Roe’s reversal, “there is no longer a legal basis to support” a previous ruling. In 1990, the federal court declared P.L. 20-134 unconstitutional— shortly after its enactment— holding that it breached Roe.

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