Will Parkinson, senator-elect for the upcoming term of the Guam Legislature sent a letter to Speaker Therese Terlaje in hopes that bill 291-36, also known as the Heartbeat Act, is not considered during the upcoming November session.
According to Parkinson “for months preceding the General Election, this measure stayed in Committee without the votes necessary to get to the floor.”, and 2 days after the election, enough votes were present to carry on discussion of Guam’s Heartbeat Act of 2022.
The Senator-elect said that because of the importance of this act, it should not be considered now that more than ⅓ of the Legislature members won’t be returning next January.
He added: “by allowing this emotionally charged issue to proceed during the holidays, after the General Election, in lame-duck sessions–we cast a long and dirty shadow over the lawmaking process–creating a scenario in which both sides lose.”
In an interview with Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo, the Director of the Department of Women’s Affairs, Jayne Flores said:
“To put this up for a vote now after the election, because you want to push it through for whatever reason is… the word cowardly comes to mind because they didn’t want to do it before the election because they knew that the overwhelming support against this bill was out there. That more people do not want this bill, more people believe that this, that abortion is a private issue that should be left to the person and their healthcare provider.”
In a response given to PNC, Speaker Therese Terlaje said that “pursuant to the Organic Act, duly elected senators of the Guam Legislature may consider all lawful subjects in its sessions until the next Inauguration.” adding that “If he wants to reduce the Organic Act authority of the Legislature he will need to discuss that with the U.S. Congress.”
In another interview with Patti Arroyo, Senator-elect Parkinson shared his thoughts on the Speaker’s response.
“I read Speaker Terlaje’s response this morning and it basically amounted to, we’re legally allowed to do it and so that’s why we’re doing it and if he wants to change it basically talk to Congress and I was a little bit disappointed with that” said Parkinson. “Just because something is legal doesn’t necessarily mean its the right thing to do and with 40% of that body leaving office and not gonna be beholding to the will of the voters, it just seems dirty pool to me too try and get it in at the dead of night.”
According to Speaker Terlaje, the agenda for each session is not put up by the speaker or any single senator and is expected to be published after it is decided by the Committee on Rules at its Nov 15th meeting.