Tuesday, December 13, 2022


By Tim Rohr

On Dec. 2, I posted the following on an FB post

I heard that the Heartbeat Bill has been reported out of committee and is on the current legislative agenda. I’m going to predict what is going to happen. The bill will come up on the floor. The sponsors will say something supportive. The senators who oppose it will say nothing. So there will be no debate. They will vote to place it in the 3rd reading file - which means it will go to a final vote. At the final vote it will get voted down. The sponsors get to say they tried and the opponents will avoid the negative publicity that a debate on the floor would bring.

Per the latest news, ten days later, I was proved right that the bill would be placed "in the 3rd reading file - which means it will go to a final vote," but was wrong about a couple other things. 

First, it appears from the news that there was at least a bit of a debate, and perhaps because the senators who opposed the bill still wanted their voice on the record. One of those senators was Clynt Ridgell - of whose comments I will say more later. 

Nevertheless, the opposing senators played it safe, objecting mostly to the unusual enforcement mechanism and not whether or not an abortion ended the life of "an innocent, vulnerable, helpless human being," which it does, and as Sen. Chris Duenas argued. 

Second, while not questioning the pro-life sincerity of the nine senators who voted to place the bill in the file for a vote, there was really nothing to lose. Governor Lou Leon Guerrero is sure to veto the bill should it pass, and the only question mark is not a question mark. Ten votes would be needed for an override of said veto and the 10th vote would have to come from Sen. Tina Muna-Barnes who, according to the news, was on an "excused absence" from the session. 

(BTW, we pay our senators to do one thing: engage legislation. It's why it's called "The Legislature." There is NEVER - other than severe illness and danger of death - any reason why a senator should be "excused" from a legislative session. NEVER. We are paying them to do what "Tina" did not do: SHOW UP! But it's up to you...voters.)

Barnes, given her history, is sure to vote NO on any attempt to override a Veto. And, like her fellow opponents to the bill, will not engage the reality of a fetal heartbeat, or whether or not abortion ends the life of "an innocent, vulnerable, helpless human being," but will oppose on the basis of said "unusual enforcement mechanism," which does not make killing "an innocent, vulnerable, helpless human being" illegal, but only permits neighbor to sue neighbor, which creates a legal mess that could last for years - if someone is even willing to spend the many thousands of dollars to sue and find an attorney to pursue such a "mess." 

Once again, and as shared elsewhere on this blog, the Heartbeat Bill, both the Texas version and Guam's, was crafted PRE-DOBBS when the outlawing of abortion "in toto" (in full) was constitutionally impossible. 

And as also previously stated on this blog, the Texas heartbeat bill was never about the ability for neighbor to sue neighbor, but about pushing the reality of the fetal heartbeat and that what we were killing was "an innocent, vulnerable, helpless human being." In other words, the "heartbeat bill" was always about pushing the "heartbeat" into public consciousness in the absence (pre-Dobbs) of a legal ability to do anything else. 

The authors and the backers of the Guam bill appear to have lost sight of this, POST-DOBBS. There is no need for neighbor to sue neighbor anymore. There is no need to permit the killing of "an innocent, vulnerable, helpless human being" up until a heartbeat is detected - which Guam's heartbeat bill does - and with the only consequence that one might be sued. 

In light of this "mess," Senator Clynt Ridgell, a senator I rarely agree with, appears to be the only sane voice on the Floor:

Sen. Ridgell said the Heartbeat Act, which was designed as a workaround for the recently overturned right to an abortion, was no longer needed. While he was prochoice, lawmakers could now decide the legality of the procedure without the unusual enforcement mechanism of the bill...I would prefer that we actually voted on whether or not abortion should be legal or illegal.” (emphases added) - Pacific Daily News

Ridgell is right. Guam's Heartbeat Bill, even if it would be enacted into law, keeps abortion legal. 

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