New Guam bill to pave way for legal action to stop anti-abortion policies
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Sen. William A. Parkinson on Wednesday introduced a bill seeking to push the government away from individual decisions on pregnancy by allowing private individuals and healthcare providers to sue any official imposing restrictions on abortion.
Despite the lack of available physicians who perform such a service, abortion remains legal on Guam.
Parkinson said Bill 111-37 was in response to Sen. Tom Fisher’s Bill 106-37 which would place the issue of abortion on the ballot in the next general elections.
“I agree with Sen.Fisher. You should decide. The government shouldn’t decide for you. The people of Guam do not get to vote on what you do with your uterus," Parkinson said.
However, he added, the proposed referendum was unnecessary.
Bill 111-37 is a proposed addendum to Fisher's Health Protection Act of 2023.
While noting that the proposed Health Protection Act of 2023 "presents great ideas for expanding abortion access and services in Guam," Parkinson disagreed with the proposal to make the people decide on the bill through a vote.
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Parkinson estimated that a referendum could cost between $75,000 and $100,000. “If we did that for every bill submitted just in the first 100 days alone, that would be about $10 million," he added.
“Senator Fisher called his bill ‘You Decide’. I agree. You should decide. You should decide what is best for you," Parkinson said. "You should decide what to do with your own body. You have agency to your own destiny and the government should never stand in the way of that. We do not put the fundamental rights of others up for a public vote.”
Bill 111-37 would allow health care providers to provide abortion services "without limitations" or restrictions that "are more burdensome than those restrictions imposed on medically comparable procedures."
The bill would also authorize the attorney general to file legal actions to stop any government official from implementing or enforcing any restrictions on abortion.
“We are a republic, a representative democracy. A republic can handle tough social issues without punting the ball to an expensive legislative submission process," Parkinson said.
"A republic can take testimony from the public, weigh the issues and decide on legislation. A republic can do all these things because that is what a republic is meant to do," he added.
Guam has recently joined the Reproductive Freedom Alliance, a non-partisan coalition of U.S. governors committed to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom in their jurisdictions.
Members of the alliance are working together “to strengthen reproductive freedom in the face of an unprecedented assault on abortion access and other forms of reproductive health care by states hostile to abortion rights and judges advancing their ideological agenda.”
“Becoming a member of this important alliance is part of my commitment to the people of Guam to protect and expand their access to reproductive choice, including the choice to have an abortion,” said Govv. Lou Leon Guerrero said.
“I have always stood for access to the full range of reproductive health care options available today, and I intend to keep reproductive choice as a private decision between a person, their physician, and anyone else they choose to involve in that decision," she added.