Guam Legislature Advances Bill That Bans Abortions on Unborn Babies With Beating Hearts

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 12, 2022   |   1:22PM   |   Washington, DC

Lawmakers in Guam may vote on a pro-life bill Monday to ban abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy.

The Guam Heartbeat Act (Bill 291), sponsored by Sen. Telena Cruz Nelson, advanced last week in a 9-5 vote, with one lawmaker absent, and final debate on the bill began Monday, the Pacific Daily News reports.

Nelson said scientific advancements make it clear that babies in the womb are highly functioning, unique and valuable individuals early in pregnancy.

“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, that among other individual human traits have their own distinct blood types, distinct organ systems, distinct central nervous systems, unique fingerprints, unique genetic characteristics, and at approximately six weeks gestational age, detectable heartbeats,” she said.

Like American states, U.S. territories also were affected by Roe v. Wade. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the abortion ruling, territories may pass laws to protect unborn babies’ lives.

ACTION ALERT: To support the legislation, Contact Guam senators.

Guam has a unicameral legislature with 15 senators, and Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero is expected to veto the legislation, according to the report. However, lawmakers could override a veto with at least 10 votes.

Nelson’s bill would prohibit abortions once the unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions would be allowed if the mother’s life is at risk. The legislation includes a private enforcement mechanism similar to the Texas Heartbeat Act that allows private individuals to sue abortionists who violate the ban. Mothers could not be sued or punished.

Last week, a few lawmakers suggested the pro-life bill should go on the ballot as a voter referendum instead. Some also attempted to amend the bill to include more exceptions, but none of the changes passed, the Daily News reports.

“It is never right to take the life of an innocent, vulnerable, helpless human being,” Sen. Chris Duenas said prior to the vote last week.

When Nelson introduced the bill in the spring, she pushed back against criticism that it would hurt her political future.

“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 in April. “It reminds us of the sanctity and the sacredness of life. And I believe that we need to be reminded of it.”

Guam does not have any abortion facilities. However, 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.

Recent polls show public support for greater legal protections for unborn babies, such as heartbeat laws and bans on abortion after the first trimester.

ACTION ALERT: To support the legislation, Contact Guam senators.