Bill 291-36, otherwise known as the Guam Heartbeat Act, has been vetoed by Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (D) after being passed by the 36th Guam Legislature. The bill, introduced eight months prior on April 8, 2022, by Senator Telena Cruz Nelson (D), draws inspiration from the conditions and requirements of the Texas Heartbeat Act passed a year prior.
The act seeks to prohibit abortion after a heartbeat is detected by a physician, typically falling under the time period of six weeks into the pregnancy. There is no mention of any exception towards instances of incest or rape, leaving the only exception of the bill in the case of a medical emergency—where the physician believes that the woman could lose her life or become “severely impaired.”
As line 19-21 under Section §91B104 of the bill’s introduction states, “severely impaired” shall mean an impairment or combination of impairments that significantly limit the pregnant woman’s physical or mental abilities.” Any physicians who perform abortions under these circumstances (possibility of a medical emergency) are then required to make notes of the patient’s circumstances, including their belief in the medical emergency and the health conditions of the patient.
Months leading up to the 36th Guam legislature passing the Heartbeat Act, the island saw a strong pushback against the bill as the number of pro-choice protests around the island grew.
Governor Lou Leon Guerrero expressed her intent to veto during a bill signing ceremony, “When we continue to allow government to decide what the health of a woman is, I think reasonable, not a very fair, not a very equal, and not a very safe kind of action or strategy. So I have made it very clear from the very beginning my stand on this Heartbeat Act … a very dangerous piece of legislation and has no place in our culture here on Guam.” The 36th Guam Legislature could have overridden her veto by gaining 10 out of 15 votes in support of the bill, but ultimately failed.