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Emotional hearing on pro-life bills

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - It was an emotionally charged public hearing this afternoon as two pro-life bills submitted by the governor to the legislature went up for a public hearing. The first was Bill 51, The Unborn Child Protection Act of 2011. The measure would prohibit abortion of unborn children capable of feeling pain.

Testimony started off with Dr. Marjorie Debenedictus. When she was questioned by Senator Rory Respicio if she would support the bill if an amendment was introduced that would require anesthesia be provided to the fetus, she responded "If such an amendment were required, yes I would be okay with an amendment requiring fetal anesthesia."  Senator Respicio responded, "But why wasn't this bill run through the Attorney General's Office even before it was submitted to the legislature?" she replied, "Senator, I'm just a doctor, I don't know about legislative procedures I'm here to testify on behalf of this bill I don't know why you're asking me questions about legislative procedures because I really don't know."

Senator Respicio then responded, "Because my fear, Mr. Chairman, in the event we do submit this to the AG for his review we're going to be criticized for doing some kind of delay tactic." The doctor then said, "So you're worried about criticism instead of fetal pain?" Respicio responded, "If I was worried about criticism I wouldn't be here today and I want you to know that, and I also want you to be very fair and just when we debate this in the public or in the media."

As the hearing progressed a sense of decorum began to deteriorate as Senator Respicio called out Tim Rohr in the crowd saying he might as well sit at the public hearing table. Rohr criticized Senator Respicio for having a vendetta against Dr. Debenedictus and that the hearing was not the forum for him to be criticizing her. Respicio fired back "What Vendetta?".  Because of the heated exchange, lawmakers had to break from the television broadcast for a few seconds before returning to air.

Because of questions involving constitutionality issues, the bill is currently being reviewed by the Attorney General's Office.  Bill 52, known as The Woman's Reproductive Health Information Act of 2011, was also heard.

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