Guam Governor Will Veto Bill to Ban Abortions, Calls Killing Babies “Health Care”

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 27, 2022   |   11:45AM   |   Hagåtña, Guam

Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said Tuesday she will veto legislation to protect unborn babies from abortion once their heartbeat is detectable.

The Guam Heartbeat Act (Bill 291), sponsored by Sen. Telena Cruz Nelson, passed the legislature earlier this month in an 8-7 vote. Guam has a unicameral legislature with 15 senators, and a bill needs at least 10 votes to override the governor’s veto.

Responding this week, Guerrero claimed aborting unborn babies is “health care” and the government should not restrict it, the Pacific Daily News reports.

“Reproductive health for our women is very, very important. And this bill certainly is very stringent, … very dangerous,” Leon Guerrero said. “(Abortion) is a very personal decision; it’s a very private decision. It’s based on what her health needs are, and it should be made in the privacy of her home, with consultation from her husband or spouse … ”

Like U.S. states, Guam and other 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.

Nelson, who introduced the heartbeat bill months ago, said unborn babies’ right to life should not be compromised, according to Kuam News.

ACTION ALERT: To support an override of the veto, Contact Guam senators.

“To me when it comes to life, there is no gray area, there is no black and white,” she said at the time. “And when we teach these things to youth about life, about the right to choice, this ideology is a huge challenge, because essentially what we are teaching them that in uncertain circumstances, in a crisis, that there’s another option and that option is death.”

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.

Leon Guerrero plans to veto the bill Wednesday, a spokesperson told the newspaper.

On Thursday, the legislature is scheduled to convene for its final session of 2022 and potentially vote to override her veto – something the governor urged them not to do, according to the report. However, it does not appear that pro-life lawmakers have enough votes to succeed.

When Nelson introduced the pro-life 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. But 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 an override of the veto, Contact Guam senators.