GUAM – Guam moves closer to restored abortion access thanks to ACLU lawsuit

On 24 February, we reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had sued the Pacific island of Guam, a US territory, over legal restrictions that do not permit access to abortion pills via telemedicine. The aim of the suit was to allow two doctors in Hawaii to prescribe medical abortion pills to women on Guam. These doctors are part of TelAbortion, which has an agreement with the US Food & Drug Administration, to be able to provide virtual abortion consultations and send the medication by mail.

On 5 March the ACLU reached an agreement with Guam’s Attorney General and Board of Medical Examiners that a 1978 law, which requires abortions be “performed” in a clinic or hospital, enacted before medical abortion pills existed, will not be enforced. However, there is also a second restriction that still needs to be overcome. That requires patients to attend an in-person visit with a physician on the island at least 24 hours before an abortion to share mandated information. This restriction, whose removal would make telemedicine legal, will be challenged on 18 March in Guam’s district court. Only if it is passed will women on Guam be able to access abortions pills through Hawaii-based doctors.

SOURCE: The Guardian, by Michelle Broder Van Dyke, 10 March 2021