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Governor vetoes Guam Heartbeat Act

by | Jan 27, 2023 | Guam | 0 comments

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.



Emily Sauget

Emily Sauget

Emily Sauget is a mixed CHamoru, Filipino, and Vietnamese junior at St. John’s School in Guam. Having been born and raised within the diverse community of Guam, the exposure to various cultures has nurtured her passion for inclusivity and social awareness. Emily is one of the founders and is currently the Advocacy Manager of her school's Humanitarian Club. She spends her time learning to sew, swimming at Guam’s beaches, and cooking Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander dishes. In hopes of contributing to expanding the representation and the overall discussion of Guam and other territories, she is a former Guam Affairs Intern Correspondent for Pasquines.


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