In reviewing the three questions the governor wants answered by the Supreme Court of Guam to counter the attorney general’s motion in the U.S. District Court of Guam to vacate the injunction on P.L. 20-134 – the Belle Arriola law that prohibits abortion on Guam from inception, i.e., fertilization of the mother’s ovum in her womb forming a zygote, the start of a human being – God willing, I believe the answers to be quite simple.
I am not an attorney, but based on very specific and clear language in the Declaration of Independence (excerpt herewith below) upon which our nation was established and which preceded the U.S. Constitution and its adoption, it is very clear that we have the right to life in the United States.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Further, in the Declaration of Independence, it specifically states that our government derives its power from the consent of the people. And if our government becomes an obstacle to these inalienable rights endowed to us by our creator, we are obliged as a people to alter or abolish it.
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it ...”
In 1990, here in Guam, an injunction was ordered by the U.S. District Court to prevent P.L. 20-134 from being implemented because of Roe v. Wade.
The U.S. District Court in 1990, and thereafter, never addressed whether P.L. 20-134 was “unconstitutional.” P.L. 20-134 was effectively held in abeyance till the court heard arguments for or against P.L. 20-134. That never happened.
Last year, I believe the U.S. Supreme Court, in the Dobbs decision that overturned the Roe v. Wade decision, was correct in stating that there is no constitutional right to abortion, but, respectively, states can determine how they wish to address this matter.
In fact, in the Roe v. Wade decision, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court actually “played God” stating that it was up to the mother to have an abortion within the “first trimester” of a baby’s development in her womb and in the “second trimester,” the government could regulate abortion depending on the health of the mother. Amazing!
Interestingly, throughout the history of the United States going back to the early 1800s, way before the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, abortion, to some degree, was legal in some states. Currently, even before Roe v. Wade, there were several states – New York, Hawaii, Alaska and Washington state – that legalized abortion. So, effectively, the Dobbs decision last year returned the responsibility of legalizing abortion back to the states.
So, here we are in Guam. We have an existing law, P.L. 20-134, that prohibited abortion that was held in abeyance with a court-ordered injunction since 1990 and which never had “its day in court.” No pun intended.
So, as I see it, the Guam Supreme Court’s decision should be simple. P.L. 20-134 can be taken off the shelf and now codified into the Guam law books.
This answers the two question of whether P.L. 20-134 is currently void, notwithstanding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, and whether the Legislature (and I would assume the governor who signed the bill into law) exceeded their authority under the Organic Act of Guam when it passed P.L. 20-134, which the proponents of abortion claim was “unconstitutional.”
The U.S. Supreme Court, last year, confirmed in its Dobbs decision that abortion is not a constitutional right. In other words, it's not federally protected, but the states and territories can decide, individually, how they wish to address this matter of abortion.
As to the third question of whether subsequent laws after 1990 passed by the Guam Legislature would “amend” parts of P.L. 20-134, if the injunction is lifted, I am not familiar with other laws dealing with abortion, though I know there is a law that requires mothers contemplating abortion to be given counsel on what a mother can do with an unwanted pregnancy. I believe this law is still applicable and helpful, in fact.
If there are any other laws advocating for abortion, then I believe they would be unenforceable, because they were dependent on Roe v. Wade, a U.S. Supreme Court interpretation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dobbs decision now rules Roe v. Wade was wrong, which therefore does not make any such Guam laws supporting abortion, or some aspect of it, right.
Finally, as I read and listen to the arguments for abortion on Guam, the common theme always is the “woman’s” body and the woman’s decision to do as she wishes with her body. They seem to avoid the use of the term “mother,” I assume, because they do not recognize the developing baby in the mother’s womb as a true human being.
The proponents of abortion all avoid the fact that there is a baby, another human being, developing in the womb of the “mother.”
Why don’t we protect that human being in the womb, who has a right to life as an inalienable right given to us by our creator? Our mothers allowed us to be born? Why can’t we do the same for these babies? These babies are the future of our country and Guam. Women are given the gift to be mothers to children who will continue our society, our culture, traditions and legacies.
Any means to prevent the birth of a child is a selfish act on the part of the mother and thus we have a law that allows for the mother to be counseled on what our society can do to help her through the pregnancy and when the child is born, the child can be given up for adoption.
As you can see, there is so much confusion and people, like the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court justices who tried their hand at “playing God” and screwed it up over all these years, whereby millions of babies were not given the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as endowed to us by our creator and the reason for the prosperity of the United States as a nation of different peoples seeking those rights.
This is the time to correct this wrong in our community. And the fact that P.L. 20-134 was never given a proper court hearing and debate in 1990, or shortly thereafter, is a miracle.
As a majority Christian community, this miracle waited 33 years now to protect the right of the unborn to life.
David J. Sablan is the president of Concerned Catholics of Guam Inc.