Senator: Amendment to telemedicine bill will guarantee no change to abortion law

Sen. Amanda Shelton (PNC file photo)

Following requests from stakeholders, a second public hearing was held for Bill No. 103-36 (COR), which seeks to establish standards for telehealth and telemedicine services in Guam. Senators reaffirmed to stakeholders that the measure would not authorize abortions via telemedicine.

“I want to be very clear with everyone that the intent of this bill is to ensure the continuity of care for Guam residents and not inadvertently allow for abortion procedures via telemedicine,” said Senator Shelton during the public hearing. “This is about providing healthcare to our people in the safest means possible, and right now, we know that telehealth and telemedicine ensure that our people continue to receive the care they need and deserve in the safest ways possible.”

As a result of prior testimony in the first public hearing on the bill and weeks of meetings with constituents, Senator Shelton offered an amendment, among many others, at the public hearing for the Committee’s consideration to reinforce the original intent of the bill to not interfere with current Guam laws governing abortion, with an added section to read: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the delivery of any abortion procedure, as defined under Guam law, via telemedicine.”

Senator Shelton and the co-sponsors of the Bill 103—Vice Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes and Senator Mary Camacho Torres—reiterated during the public hearing that telemedicine and telehealth services as proposed under Bill 103 have no bearing over any abortion procedure. The Legislature would have to change the law governing abortion procedures to allow abortions via telemedicine, which Bill 103 does not do. In the case of two laws governing the same factual situation, the law governing a specific subject matter will always override a law governing only general matters.

“I want to thank everyone who has provided testimony on this bill and those who came to me with their concerns,” said Senator Shelton. “I hope that we can all work together to ensure that we see the bigger picture here: that our people are in need of proper healthcare and we need to do everything we can to prevent any disruptions to the continuity of care for our people.”

Vice Speaker Muña Barnes, chair of the committee, committed to incorporating the amendments proposed by Senator Shelton. The Committee stands in recess and will reconvene when an amended version of the bill is finalized.

(Senator Amanda Shelton Release)