Thursday, April 11, 2024


LINK to online version (Reference links and notes added) 

Informed consent: Black line history continued

First things first. In my last column, I referred to the Fisher-Parkinson bill trashing the law requiring informed consent for abortion as Bill 167-37. That is incorrect. The correct number of the bill is 162-37.

In that column, I told the story of the tortuous journey of what eventually became Public Law 31-235, otherwise known as The Women’s Reproductive Health Act of 2012.

I concluded by letting you know that even though the legislation, which had its start in 2008, was finally signed into law four years later, implementation of the new law would be stalled for another year due to eleventh-hour machinations by the bill’s opponents and that I would soon tell the “rest of the story.”

But first, a little more history.

Laws requiring informed consent for abortion had been found to be constitutional since Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). Given that abortion is usually seen as a “difficult decision,” as even abortion supporters admit, it was reasonable, at least in the eyes of the Casey court, that a woman seeking an abortion should be provided medically appropriate information to assist her in making that “difficult decision.”

By 2008, when Guam’s first informed consent bill was introduced, many states had enacted laws requiring some form of informed consent for abortion, so why not Guam?

In his transmittal letter to the Legislature after signing the Act into law, then-Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo wrote: “I cannot even begin to imagine how providing women with information to empower them to make a decision that not only impacts their psychological health, but the life within them, could ever be the wrong thing to do.”

However, the five-year battle (2008 to 2013) to “provide women with information to empower them” demonstrated that there was a majority in the Legislature who did believe it was the “wrong thing to do” – and the latest attack by Sens. Tom Fisher and William Parkinson on empowering women with information is more of the same.

Bill 52-31 was the third attempt to legislate informed consent for abortion. The previous two attempts, Bills 405-29 and 54-30, had gone nowhere. The 29th Legislature ended before 405-29 could be acted on, and 54-30, as I detailed in my last column, was so badly mangled that it ended up accomplishing the opposite of the original intent and was mercifully vetoed by then-Gov. Felix Camacho.

It appeared that 52-31 would suffer a fate similar to its predecessors as the 31st Legislature ground down to its final weeks with 52-31 blotted and bled by then-Sen. Rory Respicio’s black lines. (See previous column.)

Then-Gov. Calvo, who had authored all three informed consent bills, apparently had had it with the senatorial shenanigans and called the Legislature into a special session on Oct. 24, 2012, to address the bill.

The general election was only days away, and Calvo was forcing lawmakers to publicly take sides on an issue that could, in a few days, have decisive election consequences. Thus, the stage was set for one of Guam’s most dramatic and emotional legislative sessions.

There was yelling and crying, accusations and cursing, and drama, drama, drama. And the drama was intensified by the presence of about 50 “Christian Mothers” dressed in their signature white dresses, holding candles and glaring at the senators through the glass separating the audience room and the legislative hall. (You can watch it for yourself on YouTube. Search for “31st Guam Legislature Special Session - October 24, 2012.”)

I wasn’t surprised that the bill passed, but when I saw the names of the bill’s opponents – especially Respicio’s – in the “Yeah” column, I became suspicious.

At some point during the debate, the bill had been amended to include a provision requiring the printed materials required by the bill to be subjected to the rule-making process as set forth in the Administrative Adjudication Act.

This was a stroke of genius by the pro-aborts. They were able to appear “pro-life” by voting for the bill just days before the election but keep the legislation from being implemented for months or even years to come.

I’m out of space for this column, so I’ll continue another time. Meanwhile, the thing that struck me in remembering this history is how it has been male lawmakers who have consistently remained at the forefront of every effort to destroy legislation aimed at protecting the unborn and their mothers, including the latest raid by Fisher and Parkinson.

It’s not hard to guess why.

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


Bill 52-31 Voting Sheet

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