Should abortion be legal on Guam?

Attorney General Douglas Moylan talks with the Pacific News Center on April 24 at his office in Tamuning. Photo by PNC's Leo Hsu

Last week, the Office of the Attorney General of Guam filed a notice of the District Court of opinion that will appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that essentially gives the people of Guam the choice on whether or not abortion should be permitted on Guam.

With the Supreme Court of the United States’ overturning of Roe v. Wade, Attorney General Douglas Moylan attempted to lift the injunction of Guam’s anti-abortion law.

Before the District Court denied the request, the Supreme Court of Guam had posed two questions for the Attorney general’s office. One being whether or not Public Law 20-134 was void at the time it was passed. The attorney general argues in their legal brief that it was good law based upon the Organic Act authority of the Legislative Branch.

The second question was whether or not the 4 statues passed after the 1990 anti-abortion law impliedly repealed the 4 laws, which Moylan said it clearly did not, during an interview with the Pacific News Center.

“The Supreme Court did an initial review,” said Moylan. “They decided that two of the Governor’s questions should be addressed. The Attorney General represents the People of Guam. We are now submitting briefs to the Supreme Court of Guam under the Governor’s declaratory judgment request, and other parties’ are also submitting their briefs.”

There will be an oral argument on May 10 for the parties who include the Governor, Guam Legislature, and the AG on behalf of the People of Guam.

As explained by Moylan, after the May 10 hearing, the Justices will then go back and further review the briefs and oral arguments reach their decision.

He has expressed that their contention is that the Supreme court of Guam should delay having further proceedings until the U.S. District Court of Guam actually lifts the injunction.

As it stands the U.S. District Court of Guam still has its injunction that the local judge did not wish to lift.

“We feel strongly that the ninth circuit will enforce the DOBBS decision and require that the federal courts no longer stand in the way of the local legislature, the Guam Legislature on moving forward with P.L. 21-134,” Moylan said.

He said the goal is to give the power back to the “people” of Guam as intended by the overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision by the recent Dobbs case.

In the case brought by the Governor before the Supreme Court of Guam, he urges the Guam Supreme Court to order a referendum. P.L. 20-134 ordered that the question of whether abortions should be illegal on Guam should be put to a vote by the People of Guam. AG Moylan contends that the Court has the power to apply equity in light of the Judicial Branch having made such an egregious error in having outlawed abortions as unconstitutional, and to order the vote that the Guam Legislature mandated in 1990.

A referendum will subject the 1990 law to current views on abortion while fulfilling Dobbs’s promise to return the question of abortion to the People of Guam.

It also allows Guam’s Court to exercise its judicial restraint to correct a wrong that has occurred for the past 33 years against the People receiving the benefited of P.L. No. 20-134.

“We feel that the referendum should go forward,” Moylan said. “It was a bit prophetic how the 20th Guam Legislature, 33 years ago, saw that this was an issue that was so important that they did not want to make the decision. They put it on a certain path and hopefully the judiciary will recognize the equitable thing to do would be to let our People decide this divisive question on whether or not abortion should be permitted on Guam.”