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Guam's Abortion Laws in a Nutshell



At some point, every Pro-Life advocate on Guam should become familiar with the laws of the Territory with respect to abortion.  Doing so can only make one more articulate in the defense of the unborn.

The "Guam Code" is the codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of Guam. It is currently divided by broad subjects into 22 titles. Each title may contain one or more chapters, which in turn contain one or more sections.  Guam's abortion laws are divided among three of these titles, Title 9, Title 10, and Title 19.

Basic Provisions
What may be considered Guam's "main" abortion statute may be found in Title 9, Chapter 31, section 31.20.  Here is that section, verbatim:
Perhaps it would be helpful to summarize the law this way:

Up to 13 Weeks Gestation
There are no restrictions on performing abortions during this time period.

From 13 to 26 Weeks Gestation
Abortions can be performed during this time period if the doctor has reasonably determined that:
  1. the child would be born with a grave physical defect, OR
  2. the child would be born with a grave mental defect, OR
  3. the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, OR
  4. the mother's life would be endangered by continuing the pregnancy, OR
  5. there is a substantial risk that the mother's physical health would be gravely impaired by continuing the pregnancy, OR
  6. there is a substantial risk that the mother's mental health would be gravely impaired by continuing the pregnancy.
After 26 Weeks Gestation
An abortion can be performed during this time period on Guam if the doctor has reasonably determined that there is a substantial risk that:
    1. the mother's physical health would be gravely impaired by continuing the pregnancy, OR
    2. the mother's mental health would be gravely impaired by continuing the pregnancy.
    Doctors performing an abortion in circumstances other than those allowed by Section 31.20 are guilty of a third degree felony, per Section 31.21.

    Refusal to Participate in Abortion
    The next section of Title 9, Chapter 31, Section 31.22, allows doctors, nurses, and employees of hospitals and clinics to refuse to participate in abortion without repercussion.

    Unborn Victims of Violence
    Chapter 17 of Title 9 is "the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2016 (Public Law 33-132).  Its
    section 17.05 criminalizes as murder acts that result in the death of an unborn child.  Other sections criminalize certain acts as manslaughter (§ 17.06) aggravated assault (§ 17.07 and and assault § 17.08) against the unborn child.  Abortion is excluded.

    Aborted Babies Born Alive
    Chapter 91 of Title 9 is "The Infant Child's Right to Life Act", which protects infants that have been born alive after an attempted abortion.  Here is the per pertinent language of that statute:

    The physician performing an abortion must take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life and health of an infant. If an abortion performed in a hospital results in a live birth, the physician attending the abortion shall provide immediate medical care to the infant, inform the mother of the live birth, and request the transfer of the infant to a resident, on-duty or emergency care physician, who shall provide medically appropriate and reasonable medical care and treatment to the infant. If an abortion performed in a facility other than a hospital results in a live birth, a physician attending the abortion shall provide immediate medical care and treatment to the infant and call 9-1-1 for an emergency transfer of the infant to a hospital that shall provide medically-appropriate and reasonable care and treatment to the infant.

    Reporting Fetal Deaths
    Moving on to Title 10, we find in section 3217 of Chapter 3, the requirement to report the deaths of unborn babies in a variety of circumstances if the death occurs after 20 weeks gestation and if the baby is over 350 grams in weight.

    Reporting Abortions
    Section 3218 of Chapter 3 of Title 10 requires abortion providers to file a report with 25 pieces of information with  Guam Registrar of Vital Statistics within seven (7) days from the date of the abortion. That office must publish an annual report of the information.  Failure to report is a misdemeanor.  This information includes the type of abortion procedure used, the age, marital status, and ethnicity of the mother, and the gestational age of the baby.

    Section 55.65 of Chapter 55 of Title 9 specifies the penalty of a misdemeanor if an abortionist fails to file a Complete Partial-Birth Abortion and Abortion Report with the Territorial Registrar of Vital Statistics within 7 days of an abortion.    

    Informed Consent
    Title 10 § 3218.1, is "The Women's Reproductive Health Information Act of 2012".  This statute mandates that at least twenty-four (24) hours before the abortion, the physician who is to perform the abortion or a qualified person must inform the woman in person of:
    1. the the name of the physician who will perform the abortion, 
    2. a description of the proposed abortion method and the immediate and long-term medical risks associated with the proposed abortion method, including but not limited to any risks of infection, hemorrhage, cervical or uterine perforation, and any potential effect upon future capability to conceive as well as to sustain a pregnancy to full term, 
    3. the probable gestational age of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed; 
    4. the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed;
    5. the medical risks associated with carrying the child to term
    Autopsies on Unborn Babies
    Moving on, Section 81105 of Chapter 80 of Title 10, which concerns the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority, grants the Office of Post-Mortem Examinations (Guam's Medical Examiner) the authority to conduct autopsies on the unborn baby when death is due to criminal abortion, whether apparently self-induced, or not.

    Partial Birth Abortion
    The last chapter of Title 10 that we will consider is Chapter 91A, The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2008.  Any physician who performs a partial birth abortion, that is, an abortion where the baby is partially delivered live and then killed before it's head is delivered, will be fined or imprisoned not more than ten (10) years, or both. Exceptions are made for procedures that are "necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself."

    Any person performing a partial-birth abortion shall be guilty of a third degree felony.

    Parental Consent Required
    Lastly, we move onto Title 19, Personal Relations, where we find in Chapter 4A, a statute that mandates the written consent of one parent or guardian for abortions that will be performed on children under that age of 18.  The written consent of the minor herself is also required.

    Prohibiting Coerced Abortions
    Section 4A105 of chapter 4A of Title 19 also forbids a  parent or any other person from coercing a minor to have an abortion.  If a minor is denied financial support by the minor’s parents, guardian, or custodian due to the minor’s refusal to have an abortion performed, the minor shall be deemed emancipated for the purposes of eligibility for public-assistance benefits, except that such benefits may not be used to obtain an abortion.

    Source
    Guam Code Annotated, http://www.guamcourts.org/CompilerofLaws/gca.html, Retrieved February 3, 2018.


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