Eight senators this morning voted to place the Guam Heartbeat Act of 2022 onto the final session agenda for the 36th Guam Legislature to debate and possibly vote on. These senators took this action despite a crowd of screaming protestors opposed to the enactment of the bill.
According to bill co-sponsor Sen. Chris Duenas, their opposition is ironic. Next month, incoming Attorney General Douglas Moylan intends to seek the lifting of a 30-year-old injunction in the U.S District Court of Guam on the enactment of an anti-abortion statute authored by the late Sen. Elizabeth “Belle” Arriola. That statute, which was passed unanimously and signed by then-Gov. Joseph F. Ada and remains on the books, criminalizes abortion, and provides for jail time for both the abortion provider and the woman who seeks the abortion.
If the Guam Heartbeat Act does not pass, superseding the Arriola law, then abortion on Guam will be criminalized once the injunction is lifted, according to attorney Peter R. Sgro, Jr., who authored the heartbeat act for Sen. Telena Nelson.
Mr. Duenas is hopeful senators realize the heartbeat act is a modern-day compromise to the local abortion debate. He also recognizes the impending enactment of the Arriola law may have cornered Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero – a staunch abortion advocate – into considering the heartbeat act as a preferable option to the Arriola law.
Senators broke for the morning, and will return to session at 2 p.m. today (Friday), when they are expected to continue on with their agenda. That agenda includes several other proposed laws aside from the heartbeat act. This is the final session of the 36th Guam Legislature.
Watch Mr. Duenas’s full interview below: