The Legislature yesterday passed Bill 52 -- or “The Women’s Reproductive Health Bill” – by a vote of 11 to 4. All senators expressed their on the bill, also known as the informed consent bill.
The four senators who voted against the bill were Senators Ben Pangelinan, Judith Won Pat, Tom Ada, and Aline Yamashita.
As senators who oppose the bill spoke, activists lit white candles in the viewing room in protest. Anti-abortion activists support the bill because it will require that information on alternatives be provided to pregnant woman who are considering terminating their pregnancy.
The bill also requires a 24-hour waiting period after the information is given. In a booklet, women are informed of the father’s responsibility, adoption, and government programs and resources that are available. In addition, the booklet describes the development of the unborn child, including illustrations.
“Abortion is already an institutionalized, acceptable practice,” stated Sen. Adolfo Palacios, who voted in support of the bill. “With this bill, we are asking women to please be informed of alternatives and choices.”
Palacios further stated, “If this bill had been passed five years ago, how many children would not have been aborted? Bill 52 will save lives.”
But Sen. Aline Yamashita, who voted against the passage of the bill, stated: “I’m not sure why we believe women must be subjected to laws to make this decision.” Instead, Yamashita believes it must be the family who should be with the woman when she makes the decision.
Pangelinan also agreed that the final decision must be made by the woman and her family. “I will be judged by no one else but God, and I will accept that,” Pangelinan said.
Yamashita also stated there was no rush to pass the bill, and that more conversation should have been made.
In the final comment on the bill, Sen. Dennis Rodriguez, the health committee chairman, stated “Bill 52 does not take away women’s right to choose, it just gives them the information to make a decision.”
Rodriguez acknowledged that the bill had stirred emotions throughout the island and caused divisiveness. “With the passage of this bill the community can heal,” he stated. “With the passage of this bill, we can close this chapter, because it has been going on for too long.”
For many, however, this is not the end. Pro-life advocate Deacon Frank Tenorio is excited and thankful that the bill passed. However, he said this is not the true elimination of abortion. “This is just a step towards that direction.”
He added: “Little by little, we’re going to fight it until we completely eliminate abortion.”
Several lawmakers also alluded to a political agenda hidden behind the passage of the bill.
Sen. Judi Guthertz said she supported the bill’s passage because of her principles. She stated that the bill should be passed as it was originally intended to provide information for women, without the “political side injected into it.”
Sen. Rory Respicio also stated: “We need to focus on policy not politics.”
In a statement, Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo said: “Today’s session clearly demonstrated this bill had enough support to pass since it was introduced in January 2011. It also clearly shows that the power a select few senators have has been used to keep good bills from being voted on. It is a shame it took executive authority to force a vote on this bill.”
Calvo further stated: “Nevertheless, I am happy we can move forward and save lives. That is what this session was about—no more, and no less.”
Abortion is legal on Guam, as it is in the rest of the United States. Several states in the United States are passing legislation to control pre-abortion protocols. In 32 states, pre-abortion counseling is required. This year alone, 17 states have set new limits on abortion. More than 30 new abortion laws this year were passed in the United States.