Guam Lawmakers Pass Infant ‘Right To Life’ Act

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Controversial bill had been opposed over provisions

By Louella Losinio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Nov. 14, 2013) – Bill 195 – the controversial Infant Child’s Right to Life Act – has passed Guam’s Legislature, receiving a majority vote during session.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Frank Aguon Jr., mandates that health care providers give medically appropriate life-sustaining medical treatment to all born-alive infants, including an infant whose live birth occurred as a result of an abortion.

According to the bill, "Any physician, nurse, or other licensed health care provider who intentionally with premeditation, or intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly, or by criminal negligence fails to provide reasonable and medically appropriate and reasonable care and treatment to an infant in the course of an abortion shall be guilty of a criminal homicide as defined in the law."

The bill became controversial when a number of women leaders came out against it at a public hearing, citing problematic provisions with the legislation.

Prominent woman leader Lou Leon Guerrero, in particular, testified that the bill may take away the discretion, acumen and judgment of the medical professionals on the grounds of who are more equipped to make a decision.

However, The Esperansa Project’s Tim Rohr argued that Leon Guerrero’s assessment is incorrect since the bill does not prescribe treatment.

"Your bill only mandates that there be ‘medically appropriate’ treatment, and that the child not be immediately discarded as medical waste. In fact the very phrase ‘medically appropriate’ fully implies that the ‘medical professionals’ are in full control of what treatment to prescribe," Rohr wrote to Aguon in his testimony supporting the bill.

"Leon Guerrero’s comments also bring to mind the recent trial of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia physician who was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies born alive after an abortion process that involved jabbing them in the neck with scissors, and whose clinic was described by investigators as a ‘house of horrors.’ Contrary to what Leon Guerrero thinks, apparently not all medical professionals are equipped with the kind of ‘discretion, responsibility, acumen and judgment’ we hope they would have," Rohr added.

Now that Bill 95 has been passed, Aguon said he wants to thank his colleagues in the Legislature and everyone who showed their support for the bill.

"I firmly believe in the passage of Bill 195-32 into law. Passing session floor is a step forward for infant children of Guam who are born alive to receive their proper and full rights to life," the senator said.

Aguon added that he looks forward to the bill being signed into law by the governor.

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