Almost two years after being introduced, Bill 52 passed - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Almost two years after being introduced, Bill 52 passed

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Lawmakers spent the afternoon in special session at the request of Governor Eddie Calvo, who asked that senators take action on the Women's Reproductive Health Information Act he submitted to the Guam Legislature nearly two years ago. There were passionate speeches delivered both in favor and against the measure, which ultimately was passed into law this afternoon by a vote of 11-4.

Emotions filled Session Hall as Bill 52 finally had its day on the floor. Senator Aline Yamashita said, "While I can already tell this will pass and I have already been cautioned, I have been warned - and in some regards I've been threatened. I ran for office to represent every single family and every single person and that is what I'm doing. So this may be the end, but I'm doing what I said I was going to do, and it is my responsibility and my duty. So I just ask what is the rush could there not been one more conservation inviting all to talk about this."

Senator Tina Muna Barnes added, "If I vote on this bill today its because I believe in life, but let me tell you - there's definitely wrong with the political wills in this community. There is so much persecution going on and that needs to stop. And I'm really, really sorry from my heart to stand here with this passion because I know how it feels to have to choose between life and death."

Senator Tom Ada was also emotional as he read an e-mail he received this morning, announcing, "Not to add more pressure, but hopefully my three daughters are not caught in a situation like this. I pray that my girls will make right choices in life, however, should my family be faced with this issue, it really should be between my girls, the doctors, and the family. If your vote determines whether people keep you in or kick you out, that is sad."

And just as emotional as it was inside Session Hall, it was just as emotional outside where over 60 members of the pro-life community watched and listened intently lighting candles and holding their signs. Deacon Frank Tenorio said, "I'm very, very touched and happy. We've stood maybe for three or four hours here, and we're very thankful to God first and the senators who decided this must go through, and this bill has passed."

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.

According to Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz, the bill isn't about life or death-but about being informed. "It's not what anybody else thinks what it is, it's not going to affect whether or not one is pro life or pro choice it's just allowing the women to be informed," he said.  Cruz however hopes that in the future Bill 415 (the Support Women and Save Children Act) will also go up for a vote before the end of this legislative term. The legislation was introduced to not only address the rising cases of abuse and abortions on Guam, but to allow for an education campaign to prevent unwanted and unintended pregnancies and encourages women to carry their babies to full term.

The four senators voting against the bill were Senators Ada, Yamashita, Ben Pangelinan, and Speaker Judi Won Pat.

Governor Calvo thanked the eleven senators who voted in favor of the bill, writing, "Today's session clearly demonstrated this bill had enough support to pass since it was introduced in January 2011. It also clearly shows that the power a select few senators have has been used to keep good bills from being voted on. It is a shame it took executive authority to force a vote on this bill. It's sad that some senators choose to focus their time on other matters like buying beaches or attendance reports. Nevertheless, I am happy we can move forward and save lives. That is what this session was about-no more, and no less."

The governor also thanked residents who spoke up to force this issue, adding most importantly this day is a victory for women and unborn children whose fate becomes a little brighter once this bill becomes law.

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