SCOTUS repeal of Roe v Wade would mean criminalization of abortion in Guam

by Jun 8, 2022Courts, Guam0 comments

On May 3, 2022, Politico published a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision regarding abortion rights in the United States. If this draft is final, the decision would overrule the cases Roe v Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v Casey (1992), two very important Supreme Court cases that protected a woman’s right to an abortion without government regulation. The leaked decision would allow the nullified laws that make receiving an abortion a crime to be reinstated locally. 

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito writes in the document known as the “Opinion of the Court” that Roe was in the wrong and the justices must adhere to the Constitution and allow state representatives to decide what their state does in terms of abortion rights. The draft decision allows states to restrict or ban abortions to their will, unlike the Roe v Wade decision that “arrogated that [state] authority” according to Alito. While this draft does not mean that abortions will be banned nationwide, the decision does mean that over twenty states with “trigger” laws and pre-Roe bans will immediately ban abortion if Roe v Wade is overturned will go into effect.

Guam, while not a US state, would be affected by this Supreme Court decision. Currently, abortion is legal in Guam, but the Supreme Court decision would criminalize many types of abortion in Guam. In 1990, Public Law 20-134 was signed into effect by the members of Guam’s 20th Legislature. This law criminalized abortions except when a mother’s life was in danger. Several people challenged the law, and it was eventually declared unconstitutional by the Ninth District Court of Appeals of Guam after a six-year battle. However, this law was never officially repealed and is still a part of the Guam Code Annotated. The law was simply never enforced as the Roe v Wade decision nullified it, meaning that if Roe v Wade were to be overruled, Guam would once again be able to criminalize abortion.

This draft decision could severely limit the rights of women on the island and would continue an unsafe practice of illegal abortions that can be fatal. While the draft is not an official decision, it is a very probable course of action that the Supreme Court is likely to follow through. It is also likely that the official decision will come sometime during Mid-June before recess for the Summer.