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Support Women and Save Children Act introduced

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - After hearing several stories in the past year about abuse particularly with our island's children, Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz could not just sit and wait for another accident to happen and has introduced legislation to not only to help and support pregnant women considering abortion but finding programs to protect infants who may become victims of desperation and abandonment.

With Speaker Judi Won Pat and several of his Democrat colleagues by his side, Cruz announced this morning Bill 415 - The Support Women and Save Children Act. The legislation is being introduced to not only address the rising cases of abuse and abortions in Guam, but to allow for an education campaign to prevent unwanted and unintended pregnancies and encourages women to carry their babies to full term.

"We'd like to be able to assist women in their pregnancies to assist them through their pregnancies helping them understand what their obligations are going to be as parent. Also in this, in the event they carry the child to full-term hopefully that if they still feel unable to take care of that child that we as a community would stand by them in trying to get them adoptions of these children," he said.

Even after they take the child home and realize that they are unable to provide for the child, the bill sets up a Safe Haven Provision where a parent or person designated by the parent can then surrender permanent custody and care of a child to a licensed health facility, GFD or GPD. The SHP shall then take possession of the child who is 30 days or younger and perform any act necessary to protect the physical health and safety of the child.

The legislation would also establish a nine-member not-for-profit foundation, which would be appointed by the governor where it would be able to receive private donations and solicit funds to apply for grants. The bill also calls for a half-million dollars to be appropriated from the Fiscal Year 2012 Healthy Futures Fund to the foundation.

"I know this is an issue of grave concern to the governor - he's very, very interested in this issue but even more than that I have been impressed and applaud and commend the work of First Lady Christine Calvo in her work with foster children," the vice speaker said.

The vice speaker's introduction of this bill follows as there has been debate over the last year of trying to stop and provide alternatives to abortions on Guam. For example, Governor Eddie Calvo's Bill 52, the Women's Reproductive Health Information Act, which was drastically amended and stalled in committee and Bill 323 by Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. requiring parental consent for a minor to have an abortion.. The latter was signed into law last year by Governor Calvo.

Tim Rohr meanwhile has been vocal about his criticism of the Legislature's delayed actions on those bill and although he applauds the vice speaker's effort today - he believes there's a different motive behind its introduction. "I am going to question the timing of the bill because simply Bill 323, the Parental Consent for Abortion Bill, which we just went through, we had a public fiasco on November 9 the morning after the public hearing. Senator Cruz tried to derail the bill by saying it was redundant that it already existing in law and so on," he said.

"This bill is damage control; we'll take his damage control and we'll run for it and we'll expect his support for Bill 52 when it gets reported back out of committee."

READ BILL 415 ON GUAMLEGISLATURE.COM

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