Lawmakers discuss Infant Child's Right to Life Act - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Lawmakers discuss Infant Child's Right to Life Act

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Just days after discussing an act to finally implement informed consent legislation, lawmakers once again tackled the topic of abortion, this time on the Infant Child's Right to Life Act.

"I know there's going to be lively discussion in regards to this legislation," expressed Senator Frank Aguon, Jr. - and he was right. Today, lawmakers tackled his Bill 195 that sets to protect infants who are born alive as a result of an abortion. "Therefore, this act mandates healthcare providers given medically appropriate and reasonable life-saving and life sustaining medical care treatment to all born-alive infants."

Aguon says Bill 195 was introduced in a prior legislature and is modeled off a template that has been utilized by over 25 states enacting born-alive protection acts.

One of the biggest concerns raised during the public hearing was the criminal penalties imposed to medical professionals. Specifically the measure outlines that any physician, nurse or other licensed healthcare provider who fails to provide reasonable and medically-appropriate care to an infant in the course of an abortion shall be guilty of a criminal homicide.

He added, "My response during that conversation is yes, the provision provides for it but my perspective is and will be during the course of this discussion and has been for my entire life. If that infant comes out alive, that infant is a human being, and that infant should be cared for and tended to like any other human being."

It was also during the public hearing where legal and medical professionals not only called the bill unnecessary, as Guam and federal law already protect born alive infants but diminishes the medical profession. Senator Ben Pangelinan agreed with the testimony, saying, "I don't believe it's balanced, and I don't believe it renders anything additional with the exception of putting the members of our community at risk."

He adds Bill 195 doesn't advance the protections already in place, noting, "This takes us back to the dark days and back alleys when doctors because of what we are proposing in here are no longer going to feel comfortable or may want to place everything they worked all their lives at risk to provide what is constitutionally right to that woman to get professional medical care in her decision of what to do with her pregnancy."

Meanwhile according to Aguon, the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act only applies in limited circumstances. For example, he says, the federal provision would only extend to those hospitals and employees operated by the feds or receive federal funding. It would not however prohibit private or state operating clinics and hospitals from denying care or medical attention to born alive infants. Bill 195 was eventually sent to the Third Reading File.

Governor Eddie Calvo meanwhile has since asked for senators to pass not only Bill 195, but Bill 193 discussed by lawmakers earlier this week. Calvo, who introduced similar legislation when we was senator that failed to ever be voted on, says we must continue to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. He further begs every senator to be a voice of the voiceless and remember the important intent of the legislation.

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