Health, not politics, should guide medical decisions | Letters to the Editor


Dear Editor,

It’s like clockwork: you can count on it. Virtually every election year, one or more senators copy an anti-abortion bill from another state or the right to life model, put their name to it, and introduce it in the Guam Legislative Assembly.

The latest “copycat bill” is Bill 291-36, copied almost verbatim from the Texas anti-abortion law and it is so dangerous and outrageous that one wonders if the sponsors have understood the consequences of this bill. , let alone if they actually read it.

The copycat bill seeks to ban abortion at six weeks pregnant, before many women even know they are pregnant, regardless of a woman’s needs and circumstances. This is a sweeping bill drafted by politicians with the goal of eliminating all abortions in Guam.

Women must be able to make health decisions throughout pregnancy that are best for them, including terminating a pregnancy, without interference from politicians.

A six-week abortion ban would prevent most women from having access to abortion. At six weeks, about two weeks after a missed period, many women don’t even know they’re pregnant.

With a ban so early in pregnancy, most women may find that once they find out they are pregnant, it is already too late for them to have an abortion and may be forced to carry a pregnancy against their will.

The copycat bill has a “snitch” rule that allows anyone to report a pregnant woman or others who help or support her in obtaining an abortion. This rule sets a dangerous precedent by pitting neighbor against neighbor, family members against each other and complete strangers against a pregnant woman. It is a regime designed to monitor, penalize and control women’s health care decisions, their bodies and their choices.

The copycat bill also contains a “bounty hunter” provision that allows anyone, including foreigners and anti-abortionists, unrelated to the pregnant woman, to sue anyone who provides abortion care or helps someone get an abortion after six weeks. If they win, they can collect $10,000 for each abortion, paid for by the person sued.

The copycat bill targets doctors, medical staff, hospitals and entire health centers, but it also targets anyone who supports a woman who is having an abortion. Commanding a premium over others is clearly and simply wrong.

Abortion is essential, urgent health care and one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States. Politicians should not continue to put our essential health care out of reach.

Women know what is best for their health and their family, and if it is an abortion, they should be able to access safe and effective care with the support of people they love and in whom they have confidence. They should be able to get all the health care they need without shame, unnecessary restrictions or outside interference. The copycat bill is designed to shame and stigmatize women’s healthcare decisions.

It is clear that the senators sponsoring this copycat bill have an outdated, narrow and disconnected perspective on women’s health care. Otherwise, they would expand access to quality reproductive health care, not restrict it. It’s also clear that they don’t care about children outside the womb.

If they did, they would provide quality child care, prevent child sexual abuse and violence, and improve the quality of life for children in Guam.

At every stage of pregnancy, a woman’s health, not politics, should guide her medical decisions.

We will fight to protect access to abortion and to ensure that every woman can get the care she needs without political obstacles like this lavish bill getting in the way. The fact that these copycat anti-abortion bills are only introduced in an election year is an obvious and brazen solicitation for votes to be re-elected.

Anita P. Arriola, Ellen Bez, Annie Bordallo, Mariana Cook-Huynh, Lisa Dames, Moneka De Oro, Jayne Flores, Régine Biscoe Lee, Carlotta Leon Guerrero, Stephanie Lorenzo, Michelle Voacolo, Vanessa Williams and Kiana Yabut are women leaders in the medical, legal, local government and civic communities of Guam.

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