Yesterday, Senators Frank Aguon and Dennis Rodriguez introduced a bill (Bill No. 168-33) that will increase the penalties and add reporting mechanisms to better ensure enforcement of Guam's existing abortion laws.
First a public thank you to these two senators for introducing this much needed bill, but also a note to let you know that three Catholic senators have already declined to cosponsor it. We will see what they ultimately do.
Now here is where Archbishop Apuron - who apparently has no problem bashing lawmakers in the press as he recently did with his Marriage Equality letter - can actually do something that matters instead of pontificating about the horses that have already left the barn.
He can call every Catholic lawmaker and ask them how they intend to vote on the bill and then he can write another letter telling us what they said - even if they said nothing.
Let's review first why this bill introduced by Senators Aguon and Rodriguez is necessary.
In 2008, the Esperansa Project was formed to address a significant problem on Guam. Despite all the pro-life rhetoric from our church, Guam was the most dangerous place in the United States for unborn children. We were able to determine this by comparing Guam's existing abortion laws with a recent state by state ranking by the national organization American's United for Life.
At the time, Guam had only two laws in place regulating abortion 1) abortions must be performed by a licensed physician and in a licensed medical facility, and 2) the total number of abortions along with a list of associated data must be reported every thirty days to Guam Medical Records.
After learning of Guam's dismal status as the most dangerous place in America for the unborn, the Esperansa Project sent a Freedom of Information Act Request to Guam Medical Records and requested copies of all the annual statistical abortion reports as required by 10 GCA §3218(e).
Incredibly we received a gaggle of partial reports and even what could be called scraps of paper dating from 2000. You can view those here.
View more reports at www.esperansa.org
It was obvious to us by the response from Guam Medical Records and the general haphazardness of the reports that no one had ever requested these before and that there was no enforcement of the reporting law.
Upon further examination of this law, we noticed that there was no penalty for non-compliance. We really found that to be amazing. Guam only had two laws regulating abortion, and there was no penalty for ignoring either. What was even more amazing was that no one we knew seemed to care or even know about it, so we decided to do something ourselves.
We approached then-Senator Eddie Calvo and asked him to introduce a bill providing for a penalty for non-compliance. He did, and it was signed into law as part of the partial birth abortion ban bill of 2008. The penalty for not reporting abortions as prescribed by 10GCA §3218 was to be $10,000 to $100,000 per incidence.
We then waited two years to see if the abortionists would comply. In general, the reporting was a bit more complete but barely. In fact we found 161 violations of just one provision: reporting within 30 days.
In July of 2010, we compiled a report demonstrating these violations and presented it to the Attorney General's office. You can view it here. We were ultimately advised that the AG had no interest in pursuing the matter.
Several times over the next 4 years we noted the lack of compliance with the abortion reporting law to Guam Medical Records, to the Department of Public Health, to the AG, and to the Legislature. A baby was being hacked to death at the rate of almost one a day and we couldn't get anyone to pay attention to even enforce existing law.
Over the same time period the Esperansa Project was working on legislation that would require a woman seeking an abortion to be fully informed about the risks of abortion, her legal rights, and her options. It was called informed consent. We had to lobby for the bill to be introduced three different times. And even after it was eventually passed, we had to lobby for another bill to be introduced that would permit it to be implemented.
Our main opponents were Senator Rory Respicio and Speaker Won Pat. You can read about their relentless and clandestine efforts to keep Guam's scandalous abortion machine going here. It is a very long and ugly story.
Finally after nearly five long hellacious years and very expensive battles, the informed consent law was implemented. Abortionists would be required to provide informational materials to each woman seeking an abortion and each woman would have to sign a "checklist certification" before the abortion could be performed.
Abortionists were only required to report the number of those checklist certifications to Guam Medical Records. A year after the implementation of the law, the Esperansa Project did another Freedom of Information Act Request to see if the abortionists complied with even this terribly tiny provision: simply reporting the number of checklists.
NOT ONE WAS REPORTED, even though the Abortion Report for the same time period showed that there were 121 abortions since the law was implemented.
Recently we have been watching the horrifying news about what Planned Parenthood has been doing with the bodies of aborted babies: chopping them up and selling the marketable organs and tissue, including whole human heads, and sometimes chopping them up and dissecting them while they are still alive.
Despite the news, not once have our church leaders inquired as to what local abortionists are doing with the bodies of the babies they are aborting or required the enforcement of existing law which requires that all "dead human bodies" be properly disposed (10 GCA §4A101). (No exception is made for aborted human bodies.)
Of course, this was no surprise. In 2013, when a bill came before the legislature that would require normal medical care for babies who survive failed abortions - meaning they can't be killed or left to die - there was no Deacon "Of Course Of Course" to testify in support of it. There was no one from the "church" at all. There was only one little 19 year old Catholic girl who stood up against former senator Carlotta Leon Guerrero, Attorney Anita Arriola, Bank of Guam President Lou Leon Guerrero, and Drs. Ellen Bez and Annie Bordallo, all of whom wanted the bill trashed.
Read the committee report here.
So now, on the eve of the much trumpeted CCD conference entitled "Safeguarding the Dignity of Every Human Person," a conference so important that all churches and diocesan entities have been ordered to shut down so everyone can attend, the Archbishop actually has something before him that he can actually do that is directly related to "Safeguarding the Dignity of Every Human Person":
Come out publicly in support of a bill that will require a more severe accountability of the abortion industry in his diocese and make it publicly known which lawmakers do not support it.
As mentioned, we have already seen his willingness to beat lawmakers into the ground with allegations of "conspiracy" and "international agenda" and leading us like "lambs to the slaughter." Great. Good for him. Bravo.
Now do it when it actually means something.
The fact is of course:
1. Archbishop Apuron did not write the letter on Marriage Equality.
2. It was written only to prop him up to Rome.
3. All the posturing came AFTER the fact.