Senator Joe San Agustin on Heartbeat Act

Sen. Joe S. San Agustin (file photo)

Being among the five senators who voted against Bill 291-36, the Heartbeat Act’s addition to the legislature’s agenda, and its subsequent appearance on the session floor, Senator Joe San Agustin, introduced three amendments to strengthen the bill.

Two of San Agustin’s introduced amendments, which ultimately failed, sought to broaden the bill’s exception for abortion for victims of rape and incest and to delete the provisions that would allow anyone to sue an individual for performing an abortion.

For context, the Heartbeat Act seeks to prohibit abortions upon detecting a heartbeat around the 6-week gestational stage. The bill leaves room for medical exceptions for an abortion, granted a physician determines a pregnant woman may lose her life or the risk of severe health impairment and authorizes public members to sue abortion providers and third parties for aiding and abetting an abortion.

In response to the failure of the two amendments, namely, the amendment regarding victims of rape and incest, San Agustin expressed his disappointment in an interview with NewsTalkK57’s Patti Arroyo this morning, “What are the mechanisms to protect the victims of rape or incest, that we could prevent them from reaching the point of a heartbeat–or even making sure that there are means– that the government is going to help them when they carry the baby to full term, and even after. Let’s make sure that if we’re gonna cause all kinds of social issues, let’s make sure we take care of the victims.”

However, San Agustin’s third amendment passed and will require the Guam Department of Education and Guam Charter Schools Council to implement an education component for schoolchildren to know the signs and what to do should they be sexually assaulted and abused.

Despite this, the senator says this effort wouldn’t matter if victims were lawfully required to carry their pregnancies to full term, “It wouldn’t matter– you teach them these things that help them and prevent issues, but we’re gonna go ahead and have you carry the baby full term, but we’re not gonna help you– I don’t understand! Wow, this bill is just– I’m not comfortable with the bill; I won’t be voting for it.”

San Agustin says he will be reaching out to his fellow Senators to reconsider and vote no on the bill.

Bill 291, the Heartbeat Act, is expected to be voted on this Friday.

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Starting as the weather personality for the Pacific News Center in 2019, then as a reporter, Destiny Cruz is now PNC’s lead anchor, producer, writer, and TV host for two of Sorensen Media Group’s shows. Over three years at PNC, Destiny has covered issues impacting our island in areas including legislation and health, to name a few, in addition to highlighting the meaningful stories of Guam’s community in features and lifestyle. Corresponding with her professional growth, Destiny has acquired personal achievements that have contributed to her development as a dynamic woman: she is a proud graduate of the Guam Community College, earning her degree in liberal studies, a former Miss Guam (Miss World Guam 2017), and singer/songwriter.