AG: Informed Consent On Abortion Bill Would Pass Constitutional Muster, But Clarifications Recommended

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Guam – The week before the November election, the Guam Attorney General advised Senator Frank Aguon Jr. that a controversial Bill requiring a woman seeking an abortion be counseled beforehand “would withstand a constitutional challenge.”  However, the AG recommended that the Legislature “may want to consider clarifying part of the Bill.”

That same week before the general election, the Esperansa project called a news conference to criticize Aguon, and other lawmakers, for what the Esperansa Project charged was stalling on the bill.

Read the AG’s opinion on the constitutionality of the original Bill 54

Today [Monday] Senator Aguon, who Chairs the Committee on Health, released both the AG’s opinion and a revised bill clarifying the original measure, as recommended by the AG.

Read the revised substitute version of Bill 54

In the AG’s opinion, Deputy Attorney General Patrick Mason writes:

“Although not necessarily constitutionally fatal, a question of vagueness does arise in Section 3218.1 (b)(8) which states:  A physician shall not require or obtain payment for a service provided to a patient who has inquired about an abortion or scheduled an abortion until the expiration of the twenty-four (24) hour reflection period required  Subsection (b)(1) , (2) and (4),” the opinion written by Deputy Attorney General J. Patrick Mason stated.  (Please see attached AGO’s opinion)

Senator Aguon is quoted in his release as saying that “Now that we have received the necessary opinion of the Attorney General Office, it will allow us to move forward. This legal guidance will be helped [sic] to lawmakers once the question of constitutionality is raised during the deliberation of Bill 54 before the Legislative body.”

The original Bill, introduced in February of 2009, would have required:

*that a woman give written consent to the procedure

*that the woman wait 24 hours before having an abortion

*that the physician give specific information to the woman seeking the abortion, such as printed material and an informational video that describes the unborn child and a list of agencies that offers alternative to abortion.

* and that the physician may not charge for the first visit from a woman seeking an abortion.

 

That same week before the general election, the Esperansa project called a news conference to criticize Aguon, and other lawmakers, for what the Esperansa Project charged was stalling on the bill.