Saturday, June 29, 2024


LINK to online version. Reference links added. 

So if you’ve been following this series (Part 1 on March 27 and Part 2 on April 15), you will know that legislation requiring informed consent for abortion in Guam was first introduced in 2008, morphed through three incarnations, endured blatant attempts by its opponents to kill it, and finally limped into law after a surreal legislative session in October 2012 (as Public Law 31-235).

However, even then the pro-aborts weren't done. Given the upcoming election it was risky to oppose the legislation, so the pro-aborts inserted a time bomb into the bill and set it to go off after the election.

In short, the bomb was language requiring the printed materials (a brochure and checklist) to be approved pursuant to a rule making requirement. The problem was that the printed materials were not “rules.” The sneaky intent of the requirement was to keep the law from ever being implemented.

Here is what then-Governor Calvo had to say about it:

“It is clear under the provisions of the Administrative Adjudication Act…that the ‘printed materials’ and ‘checklist certification’ are not ‘rules’ or ‘regulations’ … they merely reduce to a distributable form the information required under the…Act. Thus the requirement that they be subject to another protracted process that leads, once again, to the review by the Legislature should not serve to provide senators with another proverbial ‘bite of the apple’ to delay the implementation of this law.”

Though Governor Calvo had called out the chicanery, there was no reason to expect any senator to champion the new law through the rule-making barricade. So supporters of the bill (we called ourselves “The Esperansa Project”) got busy.

The Legislature had passed Bill 52-31 just days before the 2012 election, so, aiming at making this “time-bomb” an election issue, we sent all senatorial candidates a letter asking if he or she would 1) vote to approve the printed materials should they pass muster with the rule requirement; or 2) vote to repeal the requirement should the Attorney General opine that the printed materials did not meet the definition of a rule.

Next, given our experience with lawmakers running for cover under the guise of waiting for “an opinion from the AG,” we, the supporters, beat them to it by requesting the AG’s opinion first.

On May 23, 2013, the AG opined that the printed materials “do not meet the definition of a rule.” Thus the path to amend the law was cleared to proceed. We just needed someone to introduce a bill to repeal the requirement.

Newly re-installed Sen. Frank Aguon, Jr. was first to the plate. This was a bit of a miracle. In previous legislatures, and particularly when Aguon was on the 2010 gubernatorial ticket opposite then-Sen. Eddie Calvo, Aguon, along with then-Sen. Rory Respicio, had been the main opponents of the legislation.

After Aguon was released from the bonds of the gubernatorial ticket, a ticket that lost to Calvo, Aguon, always a popular pick, wound up back in the Legislature and became a champion for the unborn, especially in the fight to pass a bill which protected babies who survived failed abortions. Maybe I’ll write about that another time.

To amend the informed consent law and get rid of the rule-making requirement, Aguon introduced Bill 191-32. A few days later, Sen. Dennis Rodriguez introduced similar legislation, Bill 193-32. Even though Rodriguez’ bill was second, I believe Aguon agreed to withdraw his bill and let Rodriguez’ bill proceed since Rodriguez had chaired the committee which had championed the bill through the Legislature.

Bill 193-32 passed unanimously. But the pro-aborts weren’t done. Once again, at the 11th hour, “193” was amended to require the printed materials to be approved by a complicated panel composed of two directors from Public Health, an OB/GYN, a social worker, and a psychiatrist. (See Public Law 32-089)

Well, this is getting too long and I don’t want to do a Part 4. Ultimately, the printed materials were approved and a law requiring informed consent for abortion, after five hard years, was implemented.

Implemented, yes. But never enforced. I followed up with several Freedom of Information Act requests regarding the required distribution of the printed materials. The results were always “none,” even though abortions continued to be performed.

In the end, this law and a few others, particularly a 2015 law which put teeth into the abortion reporting law, made performing abortions so burdensome that no Guam doctor has wanted to do them since the last abortion clinic closed in 2018. (See Public Law 33-218)

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

Other References

Bill 52-31: A History-Part 1

Bill 52-31: A History-Part 2

Bill 52-31: Rules Committee Meeting, March 28, 2011, Respicio shuts down the cameras

The Esperansa Project Website

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