Debate continues on Bill 52 - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Debate continues on Bill 52

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The debate continues on Governor Eddie Calvo's call for senators to go into special session to finally act on a bill he introduced almost two years ago.

Tim Rohr told KUAM News, "It's not often that a governor asks for a bill to be introduced, and we would think that when a governor asks for something it's at least acted upon, even if it's voted down."  But almost two years after it was introduced, Bill 52 - according to Governor Eddie Calvo - has languished in legislative limbo.

Calvo noted, "They didn't want to deal with it then in the first month as governor. then we'll have to deal with it these last few weeks before an election."

Bill 52 mandates that no abortion shall be performed or induced without the voluntary and informed consent of a woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed except in the case of a medical emergency. The bill mandates the physician provides the information to the woman at least 24 hours before the abortion. The introduction of the bill was one of the first actions Calvo took after his inauguration, but until now no action has been taken on the bill, much to the disappointment of pro-lifers like Rohr.

"Kudos to him for actually standing up and saying, 'Look: vote up or down whatever, but let's take it to the floor because the people have the right to know'," said Rohr. "And I'm very impressed with his forthrightness in asking the Legislature to do this."

Governor Calvo has called lawmakers into special session for tomorrow afternoon fourteen days before the general election. Speaker Judi Won Pat says already she's received concerns about the legislation, noting, "And I understand there's a concern in the medical community and liability against doctors. I heard, of course, that some attorneys that as soon as this is passed they'll be filing in court already for the unconstitutionality of this bill."

The speaker also questions the sudden push for lawmakers to act stating why not anytime last year in a non-election year. "Why now? You just have to question the timing. Timing is everything in politics. We all know that - it's very close, he wants the majority and he'll do anything to make sure that based on the polls that the democrats don't get a majority," she said.

But Calvo maintains, "To be frank with you, the timing should have been last year. I had introduced the bill my first month as governor. I would had love to seen this bill get acted upon by this Legislature. It wasn't me who held this bill back - it was the speaker and the leadership."

Governor Calvo says because the bill was reported out of committee, he felt now was the perfect time to get the bill heard on session floor. "They may lose enthusiasm, they may have had after the election and I find it quite ironic that they're trying to have it on regular session on November 13, after the election. Is that political? I don't know," he said.

Typically before a bill is placed on session agenda the committee report has to be finalized and the committee report on Bill 52 was finally completed on Monday.  Special session, which was initially scheduled for 10 o'clock was changed to 1 in the afternoon.

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