Anti-abortion group plans rally

PROTEST: Mangilao resident Maria Espinoza is among a group of pro-life advocates displaying signs outside of the Bank of Guam in Hagåtña on Oct. 19, 2018. She and others are now taking their protest to Adelup following the news that Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero is recruiting a doctor to perform abortions on Guam. Post file photo

An anti-abortion prayer rally is being held at 5:30 p.m. today and Maria Espinoza is calling on residents who believe that "babies in the womb are living human beings and deserve to be protected" to join them.

Espinoza, who has participated in previous abortion protests on Guam, said the belief that life begins at conception isn't restricted to Catholics.

"The belief that life is precious is not just a Catholic belief, although many people in Guam are Catholics," she said. "It's a Christian belief, but also there are atheists who believe that life begins before you're born. ... The rally is to encourage others to come and join us. We will pray for our women, for our babies and of course for our leaders."

Espinoza said she was disappointed to hear that the administration wants to bring a doctor to Guam to perform abortions. She said during a conversation with some ladies, she mentioned Adelup's efforts and thought they should do something about it. An hour later, she got a phone call asking if she could contact the Hagåtña mayor to get all the permits necessary.

"It was really fast," she said, adding that someone else had the idea for a newspaper ad. "We came up with the money and placed the ad to invite the governor and lieutenant governor, as well as the senators."

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero recently told national media that local officials were taking action to replace the last doctor who performed abortions on island. Dr. William Freeman retired last year. Leon Guerrero said she is worried about women who need the option to end a pregnancy due to rape, incest or a medical emergency. Jayne Flores, director of Bureau of Women's Affairs at the governor's office, is supposed to meet with local doctors and the Department of Public Health and Social Services to determine what's needed to find and bring a doctor to Guam.

Local law allows doctors to refuse to perform abortions unless in cases of emergencies.

But Espinoza said her group is approaching the issue of unwanted pregnancies "from the perspective that they're going to do it anyway."

"What we need to teach as parents, as educators, as a community, is abstinence," Espinoza said. "It is the best way to prevent sexual diseases and unwanted pregnancies. By promoting abortion, we are reacting to an unwanted pregnancy rather than teaching abstinence."

'What sets us apart'

Espinoza said she understands that the idea of abstinence is old fashioned, especially when sex and the need to be sexy is almost synonymous with beauty and acceptance in today's society.

"Sometimes going back to the basics – respect for life, respect for others, respect for common decency and charity, and respect for the family – is good. There's nothing wrong with that basics of life in our island community. It's what sets us apart from the world," she said. "Do we really want to be like everyone else out there? How can we say we're a culture of caring and family if we're willing to kill off our babies?"

Espinoza said, "Look what is happening in the world. We have more laws, so many laws, that protect animals and there's outrage when an animal is abused or hurt, but its OK to rip a baby apart limb by limb because it's inconvenient to be pregnant?"

She said issues of rape and incest need to be addressed, but noted that "the sins of one shouldn't be compounded by the sin of killing an innocent."

"We hope to see our senators and the governor and lieutenant governor out there ... but we know the ones who will not come out," she said. "But their jobs are hard. We know. So we'll pray for them all to make the best decisions."