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Telemedicine abortions in Guam still stand

by | Sep 7, 2022 | Guam | 0 comments

On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned the historic Roe v. Wade case, announcing that the constitutional right to abortions no longer exists. As a US Pacific island territory, this means that Guam was also affected by the overturning of Roe. While surgical abortions in Guam were already very rare, it is likely that abortion rights in Guam will get more restrictive. In fact, Guam’s nearest domestic abortion clinic is 4,000 miles away in Hawaii. The last surgical abortion that was performed in Guam was in 2018 when the last trained doctor retired. Before the doctor retired, he performed around 200 abortions a year.

In 1990, Public Law 20-134 went into effect after passage in Guam’s 20th Legislature, criminalizing abortions except when a mother’s life was in danger. However, it was eventually declared unconstitutional by the Ninth District Court of Appeals of Guam after a six-year battle but was never officially repealed and is still a part of the Guam Code Annotated.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 because Roe v Wade was overruled, Guam would once again be able to criminalize abortion.

However, last September, a lawsuit about telemedicine abortions cleared the way for Hawaii-based doctors that are licensed in Guam to prescribe abortion pills. With Roe v. Wade overturned, the Office of the Attorney General of Guam appealed the decision and requested that the injunction allowing telemedicine abortions to be reversed; however, their request was denied by the Ninth District Court of Appeals of Guam. This denial was filed on August 18, stating that the motion for summary reversal was denied without prejudice to “appellants renewing the arguments in the opening brief”. Now, the Office of the Attorney General has until September 14 to file a brief about why the injunction should be lifted. As of now, people in Guam will continue to have access to telemedicine abortions until further action has been taken by the Office of the Attorney General and the Court of Appeals

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nitya Varigala

Nitya Varigala

Nitya Varigala is a junior at a Virginia high school. She is very passionate about public policy and advocacy. Nitya is the Co-Director of Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative’s Outreach Team and was a student with the ACLU’s Advocacy Institute. She has previously interned with political campaigns and found it to be a very fulfilling experience. Currently, Nitya is pursuing her Girl Scout Gold Award and hopes to teach young girls about public speaking through her Gold Award. Nitya is a Guam Affairs Intern Correspondent at Pasquines.

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