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Guam passed a bill this week to restrict abortions in the US territory, a measure that resembles a new Texas law that leaves enforcement up to private citizens instead of law enforcement, the Associated Press reported.
The Guam Heartbeat Act of 2022 would ban abortion on the island once cardiac activity is detected, which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy – before many women know they are pregnant.
The bill also permits citizens to sue abortion providers in the territory who violate the law, as well as those who assist a woman to obtain the procedure. However, it prohibits lawsuits against abortion patients.
Guam’s Governor Lou Leon Guerrero – who supports abortion rights – is expected to veto the measure.
Getting an abortion is already challenging for citizens in the predominately Catholic US territory located south of Japan. The last physician who performed surgical abortions in Guam retired in 2018.
Currently, two Guam-licensed doctors living in Hawaii see their patients virtually and mail them abortion pills. This alternative is available until 11 weeks into the pregnancy.
Hawaii is the nearest state where abortion is permitted, but is 3,800 miles away and involves an expensive eight-hour flight.