Saturday, December 10, 2022


By Tim Rohr

As our own lawmakers currently debate Guam's Heartbeat Bill, a story in today's PDN relates a news story from Texas wherein a lawsuit under the Texas Heartbeat Act, from which the Guam bill was modeled, was thrown out of court. 

Texas ruling raises questions over private enforcement of abortion ban

Per the details of the story, the whole deal in Texas seems to have been a setup. A doctor performed an abortion in clear defiance of the new law and a lawyer filed a lawsuit against the doctor "with the intention of having the court...declare the law constitutional."

No details are available as to why the Texas court threw out the suit, but given that the lawyer who filed it intended to have it thrown out, the Texas decision can hardly be used as a precedent given that the suit could have been thrown out for various technicalities having nothing to do with the content of the law itself. 

Nevertheless, the Texas ruling demonstrates the difficulty, if not uselessness, of this sort of legislation. In order for one person to sue another, one must first have standing to do so, and just who would have standing to sue in such a matter is very unclear. In the PDN story, Atty. Vanessa Williams correctly points out this difficulty.

Next there is a matter of funding such a suit - perhaps tens of thousands of dollars, and then finding an attorney who will take it on. Good luck with that. Other than Atty. Peter Sgro, the author of the bill, it's hard to imagine any Guam attorney wanting to take on such a suit other than for the same reason the Texas attorney did, i.e to basically get rid of the law. 

Meanwhile, there is our crippled, backed-up court system (especially after the pandemic), wherein it may take years to get to a resolution. Who is going to do that? 

Having backed EIGHT abortion regulatory bills into law via The Esperansa Project, I, and the others I worked with, were never under the illusion that any of our bills, on their own, would make a dent in Guam's amazingly high abortion rate. 

What we did know was that "where abortion is hidden abortion is tolerated" and that by forcing the issue into public view via legislation, that one day, the sheer weight of the reality of what abortion really is and what it was doing to our community, especially our "native" community, would become so onerous that existing abortion practices would close down and no one would want to pick up the practice.

LINK to Guam abortion reports

And that's what happened. 

Pro-abortion physicians, attorneys, and even the ACLU, blame the "stigma" of abortion in Guam, which is really a direct aim at the Catholicity of Guam. They take direct aim at Catholicism because they need an enemy other than their own reluctance to publicly tear babies apart limb by limb and cut them into little pieces. 

Pre-Dobbs (the decision which overturned Roe), the real end of legislation like the Heartbeat Bill, Informed Consent, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, Unborn Victims of Violence, and other such bills was not to curb abortion - though that was still hoped for and sometimes the effect, but to keep the humanity of the unborn child in public view as a foundation for one day overturning Roe - which in 1973, did not consider a child in utero to be a child in utero, but only "potential life," which was the language of Roe.

And it worked. Roe is gone and the states and territories are free to build their own statutes from the ground up and no longer have to settle for legislation like the Heartbeat Bill which is not only almost impossible to enforce, as the Texas story today demonstrates, but allows abortion until a heartbeat is detected and at any time thereafter with the only consequence being that someone might sue. 

The Texas Heartbeat Bill was never about ending abortion, it was about the "heartbeat," i.e. the humanity of the child. That message rang loudly and probably factored into the Dobbs decision. In other words, it accomplished what it set out to do: OVERTURN ROE

There is no need for incremental, bite-off around the edges legislation like the Heartbeat Bill that is now before the Guam Legislature. It accomplishes nothing and muddies the pure pro-life view which is that it is NEVER okay to kill an innocent, defenseless human being. 

The author of the bill keeps hammering on "it's either his bill or women go to jail" after the injunction is lifted on the Arriola law. That's not true. Under P.L. 20-134 women who procure abortions can be found guilty of a misdemeanor. And while a misdemeanor can land someone in jail for up to twelve months, that is not likely to happen given that contempt of court is a frequent misdemeanor and the usual "punishment" is nothing but a warning. 

The real matter is that whatever the Arriola Law now says it is for the Legislature to either amend it or throw it out altogether. That's what legislatures are for and this was precisely the intent of Dobbs

Something tells me that Guam's Legislature doesn't want to go there and would much rather distract the public with the furor over the Heartbeat Bill - which they already know isn't going anywhere - while they get to look like they care. 

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