CV NEWS FEED // The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reinstated an abortion counseling law in Guam that requires an in-person consultation before a medical abortion can take place.
On August 1, Guam’s federal appeals court reestablished the law requiring women seeking abortions to meet with a doctor first.
Guam is an unincorporated U.S. territory with a popularly elected governor, a small legislature, and a non-voting House representative. While Guam residents are U.S. citizens by birth, they do not vote for the U.S. president or pay federal income taxes. The nearest U.S. state is Hawaii, which is an eight-hour flight away.
Two Hawaii-based abortion doctors who say they are the only licensed medical professionals performing abortions in Guam initially opposed the law. The doctors had previously been prescribing abortion pills remotely.
While the lower court ruled that the two abortionists could prescribe abortion pills remotely via telemedicine, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled to require an in-person physician visit, even if the physician isn’t an abortionist.
U.S. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lee said that following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, abortion laws are up to “the people’s representatives—not judges.”
The court ruled to protect Guam’s legal interest in the protection of unborn life.
“The panel concluded that the in-person informed consent requirement does not violate the Due Process Clause because it furthers Guam’s legitimate governmental interests in preservation of potential life, protection of maternal health, and promotion of the integrity of the medical profession,” said the court summary.
Abortion is legal in Guam for up to 13 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for grave fetal abnormalities, rape and incest, and the life of the mother.
Guam’s governor, Luo Leon Guerrero (D-Guam) vetoed Guam’s Heartbeat Bill on December 28, 2022. The Heartbeat Bill would have protected preborn babies with detectable heartbeats.
However, there are no doctors on the island who perform surgical abortions.