Federal Court Preserves Abortion Access in Guam

March 24, 2023 11:30 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

HAGÅTÑA, Guam — A federal district court in Guam today denied Attorney General Douglas Moylan’s request that it lift a decades-old permanent injunction and allow a total abortion ban to take effect. This ruling means essential, life-saving abortion care will remain accessible on the island, and doctors and their patients will not face potential criminal prosecution for providing or accessing care.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and attorneys Anita Arriola and Vanessa Williams filed a brief earlier this month in opposition to reinstating the ban on behalf of three Guam-licensed physicians, including the only two physicians providing abortions to patients in Guam, and Famalao’an Rights, a Guam-based reproductive justice group

If allowed to take effect, the ban, originally passed in 1990 as Public Law 20-134, would have criminalized a patient who has an abortion and physicians who provide abortion care. It would also threaten constitutionally-protected speech about abortion. The law was permanently blocked in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Anita Arriola in 1990, and has remained so for over 30 years.

“The court made the right decision in denying the attorney general’s motion to reinstate a severe abortion ban that carries criminal penalties for patients and providers,” said Meagan Burrows, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Today’s decision will ensure that women and people seeking abortion care in Guam are not denied access to the essential health care they need because of where they live. While we celebrate this victory, we know more attacks could come from politicians cruelly fixated on scoring political points at the expense of the dignity and well-being of women and people in Guam. No one deserves to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against their will, and we will continue fighting alongside providers, attorneys, and advocates in Guam to preserve access to abortion with every tool at our disposal.”

If revived, the ban would have had severe consequences for people in Guam, who would have faced three untenable scenarios: Carry a pregnancy to term and give birth against their will; make a costly trip and travel several thousand miles each way to obtain abortion outside of Guam, potentially risking criminalization upon their return; or face severe criminal charges because they accessed essential health care in their own community.

Sign up to be the first to hear about how to take action.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release