On April 8, Guam Senator Telena Nelson introduced Bill 291-36, “The Guam Heartbeat Act of 2022,” modeled after the Texas Heartbeat Act. If passed, this bill would ban abortion after a preborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected, which is usually by six weeks gestation. Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States. People born in Guam are U.S. citizens, but they do not vote.
According to PNC Guam, the Bill only allows for an exception in cases where the preborn poses a risk to the mother’s health (although deliberately killing an undelivered child is never truly medically necessary). The Bill also excludes government officials and employees from reporting violations. Only private citizens would be able to report the person who commits or induces an abortion. The penalty for aborting a baby whose heartbeat can be detected is $10,000. Action would be taken against the person who commits the abortion, not against the mother.
“The Guam Heartbeat Act of 2022 was created for one reason–and one reason only,” said Nelson. “It is a bill to protect—to protect—our most vulnerable and give every single human with a heartbeat the fighting chance to live a life, to be able to breathe, to live freely, and experience the opportunity to be on this Earth, like all of us here today.”
Historically, Guam has been predominantly pro-life. Over 85% of the country’s population is Roman Catholic. However, in recent years, legislation has passed removing restrictions on abortion. The likelihood that the Heartbeat Act will be passed seems high, but pro-abortion advocates are making their voices heard trying to sway lawmakers.
Some pro-abortion groups argue that the legislation is arbitrary because there are no abortion providers in Guam. Women who are seeking an abortion must travel to another place, usually Hawaii. While this was once accurate, it’s no longer true. In 2021, the Guam Court made it possible for a woman to have a telemedicine appointment and be prescribed the abortion pill, allowing her to induce an abortion at home. Therefore, the Heartbeat Act is still necessary.
Opponents of the Heartbeat Act think it is problematic that there is no exception for women who are victims of rape or assault. They think that women who become pregnant as a result of being raped should be able to terminate their pregnancies. However, the trauma of abortion never erases the trauma of rape.
Thirdly, abortion advocates are upset with the bill because many women do not find out they are pregnant until after the six or seven-week mark. If this legislation passes, it will be too late for most women to receive an abortion. And that might be exactly the point of Texas’s, Guam’s, and similar “Heartbeat Acts.” Fewer abortions means more lives saved. According to Heartbeat International, there are four pregnancy resource centers in Guam, which offer practical, life-affirming help to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.
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