US federal judge blocks request to reinstate abortion ban in Guam News
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US federal judge blocks request to reinstate abortion ban in Guam

A federal court in Guam Friday denied a request to reinstate a total abortion ban on the island of Guam. The Attorney General of Guam Douglas Moylan filed the motion to reinstate the ban.

Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood of the District Court of Guam ruled that the original permanent injunction from 1990, which blocked Public Law No. 20-134, should remain in effect. The court concluded that Moylan did not meet his burden under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) to warrant lifting the injunction. Under this rule, the movant has the burden of showing that there has been a “significant change in facts or law [that] warrants revision of the decree.” Here, the court ruled that the US Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, does not impact the statute’s constitutionality. The court also found that Moylan failed to address whether this change in law warrants vacating the injunction in its entirety.

Public Law No. 20-134 categorizes “employing means to cause an abortion” as a third-degree felony. Additionally, the statute makes women who undergo abortion treatment guilty of misdemeanors. Moylan’s motion argued that the original injunction should be lifted because Roe was overturned and the original injunction was based on its ruling. However, the original injunction was also based on the statute violating the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause. The law also criminalized “soliciting to submit to an operation” and “soliciting and taking… or submitting to attempt to cause an abortion.” The court ruled that the Dobbs decision does not impact the statute’s constitutionality because the statute still violates the First Amendment.

In response to the ruling, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project Meagan Burrows stated:

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.