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A HISTORY OF THE DESTRUCTION OF

BILLS 54-30 & BILL 52-31 - AN AFRONT


TO THE PUBLIC RIGHT TO KNOW
BILL 54-30, THE WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ACT OF 2009 required that
consent to an abortion be voluntary, informed, and written. It was introduced by Senator
Eddie Calvo in February of 2009, promptly received a public hearing, and was reported
out of Committee the following month.

Given that Bill 54 would have provided the first ever significant legal protections to the
unborn and their mothers, we expected that the bill would be challenged. We were not
surprised by the subterfuge, intrigue, lies, and silence that followed. We did not however
expect to have to ask the Governor to veto the bill. The fact that we DID have to ask the
Governor to veto the bill is evidence of the subterfuge employed by legislators in order
to evade public scrutiny on the issue of abortion.

Rather than vote up or down on the bill or simply not place it on the agenda, Senator
Respcio completely rewrote the bill so that it actually accomplished the opposite of the
billʼs intent: advised on the risks of carrying a child to term rather than the risks of
abortion.

It was obvious why Senator Respicio did this. He did not want to have to face public
scrutiny by voting the bill down. He tried to keep it off the agenda, but Esperansa had
already shed some public light on that tactic. Substituting an entirely different bill on the
floor would allow Senator Respicio and the others who want to keep abortion
unregulated on Guam the best cover:

1. The public would not see the substitute bill beforehand


2. The bill would have the same number and title, allowing the public to think it was the
same bill but with “some” revisions
3. “Substituting” the bill at the very end of the session held on the day after
Thanksgiving would give the debate the least amount of public exposure
4. The “substitute” bill would force the author and supporters to try to put the
informational requirements back into the bill, which Respicio knew wouldnʼt happen
because of the Democratic majority.
5. The substitute bill would pass and Respicio and his colleagues would be seen as pro-
life.

Respicio was correct on all his assumptions and tactics. But he didnʼt count on some of
us watching so closely. Once confronted with the evidence of his sneaky antics he has
had to increase the cover-up which now includes a violation of the Open Government
law.
Timeline

02/02/09: Bill 54-30 introduced 1

03/27/09: Received Public Hearing

03/30/09: Reported out of Committee on Health (Committee Report) 2

(See Exhibit A 3 for documentation of the following 1/18/10 - 7/30/10)

01/18/10: 9 months after the bill is reported out of Committee, Esperansa inquires with
Senator Aguon as to the status of Bill 54

01/19/10: Sen. Aguon adivses us that Bill 54 was “re-referred” back to his Committee
"today" : "Bill 54 was re-referred back to the Committee today due to
constitutional questions raised on certain provisions" and stated that he would
have to "review these provisions and ensure that they were consistent with
existing constitutional issues".

06/2010: 5 months later, Esperansa again contacts Senator Aguon by phone to request
for an update on status of Bill 54

06/2010: Esperansa is advised by an Aguon staff member that the bill had been
referred back to Senator Respicioʼs Committee on Rules.

06/2010: Esperansa contacts Senator Respicioʼs office (by phone) and the following
transpires:
• A Respicio staff member informs Esperansa that the bill is still with
Sen. Aguon.
• Esperansa advises the staff member that we had already contacted
Sen. Aguon and were advised to contact Sen. Respicio.
• Staff member advises Esperansa that the matter will be looked into
and we would be contacted.

07/05/10: After not hearing back from Senator Respicio's office, Esperansa (in an email)
recounts the foregoing to Senator Respicio and again reiterates a request for
a status update.

07/05/10: Sen. Respcio advises Esperansa that Bill 54 had been “returned to the
Committee on Health” due to information submitted by “a few attorneys of a
recent US Supreme Court decision which would have deemed Bill 54
unconstitutional.” He then advised us to contact him if we needed “additional
information and further clarification”. So we did.

07/05/10: Esperansa asks Sen. Respicio to please let us know “which recent U.S.
Supreme Court case would invalidate Bill 54, and which provision of Bill 54 in
particular would be invalidated by that case?”

07/15/10: Sen. Respicio did not respond. Esperansa then sent another inquiry
requesting clarification on the the U.S. Supreme Court case Sen. Respicio
had referred to in his previous reply.

07/17/10: Sen. Respicio replied that he was “still in the process of obtaining that
decision” and referred us to the testimony submitted by Arriola, Cowan, &
Arriola which “explains the legal flaws of the bill”, and promised to “forward a
copy of the actual decision as soon as we can get one.”

07/19/10: Esperansa contacts Sen. Respicio (email) asking Sen. Respicio if they simply
accepted the Arriola opinion or if he sought out a neutral opinion on the
constitutionality of Bill 54. And we again asked for information about the
specific decision.

07/28/10: Sen. Respicio informs Esperansa that the bill is not within his committeeʼs
jurisdiction and that he is essentially tired of us bothering him.

07/29/10: Esperansa sends a request for the decision again. There is no reply.

07/30/10: Esperansa asks Sen. Respicio again whether or not he sought out a neutral
opinion on the supposed constitutionality of Bill 54. There was no reply.

09/29/10: Two months later, Esperansa sends a letter 4 to Sens. Aguon and Respicio
with exhibits detailing these conversations and providing evidence that there
was no U.S. Supreme Court decision mentioned in the Arriola testimony as
claimed by Senator Respicio.

09/29/10: Upon receipt of our letter and presented with the evidence of either his
neglect or his intention to thwart the legislation, Sen. Aguon immediately
sends a request 5 for opinion on Bill 54 to the Attorney General, 9 MONTHS
after he advised us (on 1/19/10) that he would have to research the
"constitutional issues".

10/06/10: Sen. Aguon notifies 6 Esperansa that a request for opinion by the Attorney
General has been submitted by his office.

10/07/10: Esperansa acquires a copy of Sen. Aguonʼs letter to the Attorney General
which is Date/Time stamped: 9/29/2010, 1:30pm, which is less than one hour
after Esperansa had sent him our letter with the attached exhibits and threat
of public action.

10/7/10: Esperansa holds a press conference summarizing all of the above.

10/07/10: Sen. Aguon is not available for comment to the Media, which then asks Sen.
Barnes, a co-sponsor of the bill, for her opinion. Barnes either ignores the
evidence or demonstrates her ignorance of the bill's status stating 7 to the
media that she believes Sen. Aguon is doing the right thing.

10/08/10: Sen. Aguon advises 8 the media that he has submitted a request for opinion
on Bill 54 to the Attorney General. He does not say when, and he is not
asked.

10/12/10: Sen. Respicio, now caught in the middle of a big lie, goes on the attack, 
accusing 9 Esperansa Spokesperson, Marjorie DeBenedictis of being a front
for the Calvo-Tenorio campaign.

10/26/10: Attorney General advises 10 Senator Aguon that Bill 54 WOULD withstand a
constitutional challenge, recommends only one area of clarification.

11/05/10: Committee on Health incorporates AG's recommended clarification and re-


reports 11 the bill out of Committee.

11/26/10: A new Bill 54 12 is questionably “substituted” during the Legislative Session


with the following header:

# As Substituted by the Committee on Economic


# Development, Health & Human Services, and Judiciary
# and further Substituted on the Floor

# However:
• A full 88% of the original bill's provisions have been deleted, calling into
question the issue of germaneness required of substitute bills
• With essential provisions of the original bill now deleted, the bill now
effects the opposite of the bill's Findings and Intent.
• The "substitute" bill on the floor IS NOT the substitute bill which was
reported out of the Committee on Health on 11/5/10

11/30/10 Legislature passes the "new Bill 54"

12/01/10 Bill 54 is transmitted to the Governor

12/06/10 Esperansa recommends 13 Governor to veto Bill 54 which has become a pro-
abortion bill
12/13/10 Governor Camacho vetoes Bill 54

12/15/10 Tim Rohr acquires copy of video recording of the Legislative Session held on
11/26/10 in which Bill 54 was debated. A review of the recording does not
show where the substitute bill was legitimately substituted and
accepted on the floor as per the header which says: “and further substituted
on the floor.

12/20/10 Because the DVD recording is not the official record of legislative
proceedings, Rohr asks the Clerk of the Legislature (by phone) for a copy of
the legislative journal, which is the official record, and which the Organic Act
requires the legislature to keep and to make available for public inspection.

# He is told that the journal is not available. The request is made for the
journal in order to officially verify what the video recording of the
session shows: that the bill presented on the floor for debate was not
substituted according to the standing rules and was radically different
than the bill reported out of the oversight committee.

01/15/11 Esperansa posts a copy of Senator Aguon's Speech about Bill 54 at the
11/26/10 Legislative Session in which Aguon attempts to clear his name but
actually provides further documentation and evidence to his role in the
attempt to bury Bill 54.

01/20/11 An Esperansa member, at the request of Tim Rohr, who is off-island, again
requests a copy of the journal for the session relative to Bill 54 and is again
told that it is unavailable.

01/25/10 Bill 52-31 is introduced at the request of Governor Calvo. Bill 52-31 is the
same bill as Bill 54-30.

02/11/10 Public Hearing on Bill 52-31. Sen. Respicio gets hostile with Dr. DeBenedictis
who is testifying in favor of the bill. He then shouts at Tim Rohr who hasnʼt
said anything but had gotten up to give Dr. DeBenedictis additional
information. An argument ensues between Respicio and Rohr (see
Committee Report)

02/20/10 Due to the extreme hostility demonstrated by Sen. Respicio at the public
hearing, we anticipated that he would again violate the standing rules and do
the same thing to Bill 52-31 that he did to Bill 54-30, Rohr again asks for the
journal in order to have evidence of Respcioʼs unethical actions as regards
Bill 54-30. He is again denied a copy of the journal.

03/17/11 Bill 52-31 (as substituted) is reported out of the Committee on Health.
03/17/11 Still trying to acquire the journal for Bill 54-30, Rohr sends a request 14 to
Speaker Won Pat - the request references her recent Bill 90-31 which calls for
greater government transparency.

03/23/11 Rohr receives a reply 15 from Speaker Won Pat that the requested journal will
be available in “3-4 weeks”.

03/24/11 Rohr responds 16 to Won Pat”s reply questioning her sincerity in introducing a
bill requiring greater government transparency when she herself is ignoring
existing requirements which calls for concurrent written record of legislative
proceedings. He questions whether she is also involved in the cover-up of the
fate of Bill 54-30.

03/28/11 The Committee on Rules chaired by Sen. Respicio meets to set the agenda
for the next legislative session. Senator Rodriguez requests that Bill 52-31 be
accepted.

03/29/11 We are advised by Sen. Rodriguez that the bill he reported out of his
committee was not accepted and that the Rules Committee had accepted
instead Sen. Respicioʼs substitute bill 17 which eliminated all the information
requirements.

# We ask for a copy of the substitute bill and verified what Sen. Respicio had
advised.

# Respicioʼs actions on Bill 52 is a topic of discussion on K57ʼs morning show.


Rohr calls in to question Respicioʼs actions. Respicio joins the call and
attacks Rohr then hangs up on him.

03/31/11 Rohr sends a letter 18 to Sen. Respicio, requesting a copy of the minutes for
the Committee on Rules meeting held on Monday, March 28.

04/04/11 The Pacific Daily News runs a story 19 about Tim Rohrʼs request for the journal
wherein Won Pat refers to the journal as a “transcript”, and uses the excuse
that a transcript takes time (since it is now 5 months after the fact).

04/05/11 Not receiving a reply from his March 24 letter to Won Pat, and wondering why
Won Pat thinks the journal is a transcript, Rohr sends another letter 20 to Won
Pat referencing several instances in both the Organic Act and the Legislative
Standing Rules wherein the journal is referenced. Again, there is NO
response from Won Pat.

04/05/11 Rohr receives a video recording of the Committee on Rules meeting of


3/28/11 from Sen. Respicioʼs office as per his 3/31/11 request, but not a copy
of the minutes.
# The video reveals what appears to be an instruction from Senator Respicio to
a staff member to cut the recording at an important juncture in the meeting.
The excuse of a “recess” is used as the purpose for cutting the recording, but,
as confirmed by Senators Rodriguez and Duenas, this is where a significant
discussion took place off camera.

#
04/27/11 Because a video recording is not the official minutes of the meeting, Rohr
sends another letter 21 to Respcio asking him to confirm as to whether or not
the DVD recording is his answer to Rohrʼs request for a copy of the minutes
of the meeting. Respicio does not respond. Therefore, we must assume that:

1) the DVD recording is the official record or minutes of the meeting as


required by the Open Government law,
2) the official record has been tampered with due to the portion of the
meeting purposely eliminated by Respicio by cutting the recording for the
remainder of an important disucssion, and
3) Respcio is in violation of the Open Government law which states that
the minutes of every meeting of each public agency" are to "be promptly
and fairly recorded", and are to "be open to public inspection", and a
significant portion of the minutes was purposely eliminated from the
recording.

The public has been denied access to the full record of a public meeting for the
purposes of a senator who wished to cover his sneeky actions.

04/27/11 The “3-4 weeks” indicated in Speaker Won Pats 3/23/11 letter as per the time
frame in which Rohr could expect to receive a copy of the journal for the
11/26/10 session he requested is still not forthcoming. Rohr writes another
letter 22 to Won Pat stating:
1. He has received from the Clerk of the Legislature copies of the journal for
the first sessions of the 28th, 29th, 30th, & 31st Legislatures, demonstrating
that keeping a written journal and not just a video recording is the norm for
the journal.
2. Rohr states that he received the copies of the requested journals within 4
days as per the requirement of the Open Government law.
3. Rohr alleges that Won Pat is withholding the journal for the discussion
relative to Bill 54 since over 5 months have transpired and the journal is still
not available while journals for other sessions were easily obtainable.

Notes:
Currently Guam has only three laws regulating abortion:
1. Abortions must be performed by a physician
2. Abortions must be reported
3. Partial Birth Abortion Ban
Compared to a state by state study conducted by AUL.org and information available
from Guttmacher.org, the lack of regulation of the abortion industry on Guam makes
Guam the easiest place in the United States to procure an abortion.

Other states have seen the wisdom of providing some regulation of the industry given
the risks involved and the regrets expressed by many women. In 1992, the U.S.
Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v Casey, opened the door for informed consent
laws. Today most states have some form of a waiting period after counseling which is
what Bills 54-30 would have required (and now Bill 52-31).

See State Policies in Brief: An Overview of Abortion Laws as of May 1, 2011, published
by the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research group which tracks legislation
regulating abortion. Note the states which have laws requiring a waiting period after
counseling. Note that Senator Respicioʼs rewrites of both Bill 54-30 and 52-31 would
have eliminated all the counseling requirements leaving only an empty 24 hour waiting
period.