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Legislation ensures abortion providers follow rules

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Abortion is a sensitive issue, and while the decision to follow through with a pregnancy is up to the mother of the unborn child, the law dictates that the mother be given the opportunity to make an informed decision - a law that abortion providers are allegedly not following. In a response Wednesday afternoon, Senator Frank Aguon, Jr. introduced a bill relative to the matter.

Last year on Guam 209 abortions were conducted and of that number least 120 abortions were conducted after the passage of the Woman's Reproductive Health Information Act, which was introduced by Governor Eddie Calvo shortly after his inauguration. Esperansa Project co-founder Tim Rohr told KUAM News, "About two years ago after a five year battle to get an informed consent law in place about a little over a year ago it was finally implemented and what the law requires is that a woman seeking abortion has to be given a 24-hour waiting period a pamphlet an informational booklet to take home."

Before proceeding with the abortion the woman must signoff on a checklist certification acknowledging the risks and confirming that she has read the materials. The law then requires the abortion provider to submit the total number of checklist certifications received to Guam medical records on a monthly basis. But according to Rohr, that has not been happening.

He continued, "According to GMH or Guam medical records, the abortions performed they didn't turn in any numbers in for those checklist certifications. So, zero. However, vital statistics shows that in 2014, 209 abortions occurred approximately 120 of those were after the law was implemented." Not turning in the checklist documents is a violation of the law.

According to Rohr in a previous instance the Esperansa Project approached the Attorney General's Office with a similar complaint related to the failure to file abortion reports on time. Rohr says over 186 incidents were documented and presented to the AG's Office, yet nothing was done. He says the question becomes who will enforce the law? While the Department of Public Health has the job of administering the documentation to the abortion providers, he is unsure of Public Health's enforcement capabilities.

He is now calling on the government to do its job by enforcing the law, saying, "Now we are looking to go to the legislature and the current AG. I don't know what they are going to do - I do hope she does something about it because this was a couple of years ago before the current AG took office. Obviously, the AG will be made aware at this point we will also need to look at tightening up the legislation."

In fact, Senator Aguon on Wednesday introduced legislation relative to the enforcement of noncompliance with partial abortion and abortion reports. "It was brought to the attention of my office that abortion reporting requirements, which enumerates about 24 items, was not being properly provided to the Department of Public Health and Social Services," said the lawmaker.

Those items include the type of procedure, procedures done after the abortion and information provided to the woman before and after the procedure. The legislation not only proposes strict fines against abortion providers for non compliance anywhere between $10,000 to $100,000 for each offense, but also suspends the license of the abortion provider. Blas says that Public Health and the Attorney General's Office would be the enforcing arms of his bill.

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