The U.S. territory of Guam is considering legislation this spring to protect unborn babies from abortion once their heartbeats are detectable.
On April 8, Guam Senate Majority Leader Telena Cruz Nelson, a pro-life Democrat, introduced a bill modeled after the Texas heartbeat law that would ban most abortions on the island, PNC reports.
“It is a bill to protect—to protect—our most vulnerable and give every single human with a heartbeat the fighting chance to live a life, to be able to breathe, to live freely and experience the opportunity to be on this Earth, like all of us here today,” Nelson said.
The Guam Heartbeat Act (Bill 291-36) would ban abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy, and allow private citizens to sue abortionists who violate the ban. Exceptions would be allowed if the mother’s life is at risk.
“I was repeatedly told that this isn’t the right time and this [bill] is political suicide. Well, I realized it will never be the ‘right’ time and I never ran for Senator to serve myself,” Nelson said at a press conference this month.
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Responding to criticism, Nelson said her bill is necessary even though Guam currently does not have any abortion facilities or doctors doing abortions, according to the report.
“It reminds us of the sanctity and the sacredness of life. And I believe that we need to be reminded of it,” she said.
Last year, the ACLU filed a lawsuit that could bring abortions back to the island. The Guardian reports the lawsuit challenges two Guam abortion regulations that require abortions to be done in a medical facility or hospital and a doctor to meet with the patient in person for an informed consent consultation at least 24 hours before the abortion.
Abortion supporters also criticized Nelson for not including an exception for rape in her bill, but she said violence is not a solution to violence.
“Any woman who has been raped has suffered horrific violence and injustices,” she told PNC. “The rapist should always be held accountable for their actions. However, abortion does not undo the violence; it brings another form of violence and adds trauma to the victim.”
The Pacific Daily News reports Catholic leaders have voiced support for pro-life legislation, saying it will save children’s lives.
“After a preliminary review, I am optimistic that the Archdiocese of Agaña will support the bill since it would save lives of unborn children by prohibiting abortion when a heartbeat is detected in an unborn child,” Archbishop Michael Byrnes said.
The bill recently was referred to committee.
The Texas heartbeat law went into effect in September, and pro-life leaders estimate as many as 17,000 unborn babies have been spared from abortions so far. Abortion activists have filed several lawsuits to block the law, but none have succeeded yet.
ACTION ALERT: To support this bill, Contact Guam senators.