Wednesday, March 27, 2024


LINK to online version (Reference links and notes added)

Note: 167-37 is incorrect. The correct number is 162-37.

Reading through Bill 162-37 brought back memories. The legislation was introduced by Senators Parkinson and Fisher to “update” The Women’s Reproductive Health Act of 2012, otherwise known as “informed consent for abortion.”

The Parkinson-Fisher bill is a funny exercise in black lines. After the first couple pages setting out the intent and definitions, the rest of the 13 pages is a copy of the 2012 Act with about 90% of it struck-through, black-lined, cancelled, quashed, etc., with no substitute language inserted. So much for “updating.”

Parkinson and Fisher aren’t the first senatorial chair-warmers to draw endless black lines through legislation aimed at providing women information about abortion and its alternatives. That dishonor goes to former Senator Rory Respicio who did it twice.

Respicio’s first black-line slashing of informed consent legislation was Bill 54-30, authored by then-Senator Eddie Calvo. After almost a two year delay in moving the bill through the legislature, a delay, in part, orchestrated by Respicio, Respicio, during a late-night debate on the session floor, introduced a substitute bill, which, like Bill 162-37, was page after page of black lines.

Laughably, the only thing left of the original bill was language which warned the expectant mother of the risks of giving birth instead of the risks of procuring an abortion. Incredibly Respicio’s substitute bill - which accomplished exactly the opposite of the original - passed!

(Note: Respicio's black-lined bill is not available. However, the effect of Respicio's black lines is demonstrated by comparing the original bill to the bill that was substituted and passed [See §3218.1 (b)(1)(B)].)

The next day, I got busy to convince then-Governor Felix Camacho to veto it. He did, and there was no vote to override.

(Note: Govern Camacho's veto letter.)

After Senator Eddie Calvo became Governor Eddie Calvo, he used his organic act authority to introduce Bill 52-31 - another attempt at legislating informed consent for abortion. Once again Respicio played spoiler for the better part of two years.

Finally, the bill had a public hearing.

During the hearing there was an altercation between Respicio and myself. I had handed a note to a friend who was testifying in favor of the bill and Respicio yelled at me. I yelled back and the committee chairman (then-Senator Dennis Rodriguez) had to jump in to “restore decorum.” Things went downhill from there. The fiasco is memorialized in the bill’s committee report.

Despite the contentious hearing, Bill 52-31 received a committee “go” vote. However, the next stop was Respicio’s Rules Committee. Expecting more eleventh hour chicanery like what Respicio pulled with Bill 54-30, I made sure to watch the meeting via video.

Sure enough, when it came time to discuss Bill 52-31, instead of proceeding with the discussion, Respicio began distributing copies of a mystery document to the other members.

After receiving his copy, Senator Chris Duenas attempted to ask a question and Respicio cut him off when he called  over an aid. After whispering something to the aid, the aid disappeared off camera and a moment later the video feed stopped.

I learned later that the mystery document was another Respicio strikethrough of nearly the whole bill. This time the only thing left of the original bill was a 24 hour waiting period.

The waiting period provided time for the mother to review required information in order to make an informed decision. However, Respicio had struck out all the information provisions, so the end effect of Respicio’s black lines was to require a woman seeking an abortion to go to the doctor and then be sent home for 24 hours with nothing.

I got a copy of Respicio’s second slash and burn job and called into a local radio talk show. I was ripping into Respicio when Respicio called in and started ripping into me. It made for great talk radio for a few minutes. But it ended when Respicio angrily hung up. The host and I had a good laugh about that.

The yelling and screaming wasn’t over though. In an attempt to get the bill passed, Governor Calvo called the legislature into a special session to try to force a vote. The session was only a few weeks before the next election and some of the senators were wild with rage at being forced to take a position so close to an election. Some were even sobbing. It was a real spectacle.

(Note: LINK to the video recording of the special session.)

Bill 52-31 passed but not without more eleventh hour shenanigans which delayed enactment of the bill for another year. I’ll write about that next time.

Tim Rohr has resided in Guam since 1987. He has raised a family of 11 children, owned several businesses, and most recently been active in local issues via his blog,, letters to local publications and occasional public appearances. He can be contacted at

Relevant Links:

History of Bill 54-30 (Then-Sen. Frank Aguon, Jr., whose committee controlled the bill, was, with Respicio, the nexus of the nemesis which tried to deep-six the bill. Later, Aguon had a change of heart and helped champion the legislation through to enactment.)

Bill 54-30 has been accepted (Nov. 26, 2010)

Conspiracy in the Guam Legislature, July 7, 2011

Bill 52-31 COR Mtg 03/28/11 (Notes on Respicio's Committee on Rules Meeting. The video recording of the meeting is no longer available. I'll see what I can do to fix that.)

Rohr vs Respicio on K57 (The recording is no longer available, however the text of the call is transcribed here.)

Continued at Part 2

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