By: Tim Rohr (co-founder of The Esperansa Project)
|Posted on Holy Saturday, 2022
The following is a work in progress. Ultimately, I want to publish a book titled something like:
THE END OF ABORTION: How Guam went from the easiest place in the nation to procure an abortion to zero abortions in ten years
Due to the recent introduction of the "heartbeat bill" (291-36) and the war that has already erupted in the local press over the bill (that's a good thing by the way) I believe it is imperative to share the following information now and perfect it later for whatever publication may take form.
The "heartbeat bill" is the first abortion legislation that Esperansa is not involved in. Thankfully, others have taken up the mantle after ten years of Esperansa-backed legislation terminated the abortion industry here in Guam in 2018 and left our radical pro-abortion Chamorro (and first woman) governor engaging in laughable, if not egregious, machinations to recruit off-island doctors to come to Guam to kill mostly Chamorro babies.
With great thanks to the new champions, we at Esperansa still believe that the lessons Esperansa learned over our ten year battle ridding Guam of abortionists wherein we pushed through eight pro-life bills into law in eight years, provide a valuable lesson going forward and a warning not to charge head-long into the pro-aborts trap who even hold up a sign saying: "Walk into this."
For now. Here it is. Check back for updates. Also, at the end of this report, there will be links to all published articles and letters re the heartbeat bill.
From 2008 to 2016, the Esperansa Project was successful in getting twelve pro-life bills introduced into the Guam Legislature, eight of which were signed in to law.
Our biggest challenge was not the obstinate pro-abortion senators and their backers, but people on our own side who insisted on making the traditional arguments, sometimes tearfully at public hearings, that “life is sacred,” “abortion is murder,” and “every child has a right to life,” etc.
The pro-aborts not only know all that, they are waiting for it. They want you to “defend” (the unborn) because they want to keep you on defense while they remain on offense. And they usually win by asking you questions like “what right does a man have to tell a woman what to do with her body,” etc.
And then we respond with answers that give the opening to ask an even more ridiculous question, and so on. We end up shaking our heads at the inanity of their questions and spouting the same slogans that allowed them to corner us in the first place.
What we have to understand is that “the medium is the message.” (Marshall McLuhan). It’s not the questions they are asking, it’s that they are asking the questions. And whoever asks the questions controls the conversation.
Jesus showed us how to handle these sort of “hostiles.” Jesus never answered questions designed to attack and to trap. He turned the "hostiles" questions around: “Whose head is on the coin?” Jesus stayed on offense. He attacked his attackers with their own words. Not for his own defense, but for the instruction of the people He came to save.
When dealing with a pro-abort there is really only one question to ask:
“At what point would you say it’s okay to kill an innocent, defenseless human being?”
We can ask this because the pro-aborts, the educated ones, no longer contest that the “thing” they are aborting is a living human being; so arguing that abortion ends a human life means nothing to them.
Their position is that even if the child is a living human being the child does not have a right to life unless the mother wants it.
So the only question is when?
Some will respond at a certain gestational age (e.g. first trimester). Others will say it depends if the fetus is diagnosed with a defect.
It doesn’t matter the answer. The idea is to put the pro-abort in the position of answering your questions instead of the other way around. Then force the pro-aborts to be the executioner of their own child by forcing them to answer the question of WHEN would YOU do it?
Most pro-aborts argue about the “woman’s right,” i.e. someone else, or women generally. It’s a safe distance.
Make it unsafe by keeping it personal.
To get rid of you they will probably be flippant and say something to the effect of “whenever I choose.” Keep the questions going. Such as:
- Are you okay with aborting YOUR child up to full term?
- Do you know the procedure used to abort full term babies? (Describe D&E, Saline, or Partial Birth Abortion in detail if you know it.)
- How about if your baby survives the abortion, as some do, would you still want to kill it?
- How would you kill it?
- How would you have the baby’s body disposed? Throw it in the trash? Bury it?
Keep it calm and academic, but keep it personal.
Also, by this sort of questioning you take away their main weapon which is to paint your position as religious and whereafter they can quickly dispose of you under the false flag of separation of church and state.
Once that happens, because of the huge ignorance about the fact that there is no separation of church and state in the Constitution, you are pretty much done. So don’t let it go there. Stay on offense: When is it okay with you to terminate the life of an innocent, defenseless human being?
THE ESPERANSA PROJECT
Today, on Guam, the abortion clinics are gone and no local doctors will perform them (at least not publicly). Compare this fact to the abortion reports from a little over ten years ago when there was an average of almost one abortion every day. (The new telemedicine thing notwithstanding.)
Click here for copy of Abortion Reports from 2008 to 2016.
Whether Esperansa had anything directly to do with ridding our island of its abortion scourge, I don’t know. But what I do know is that Esperansa’s aim was to: 1) expose abortion in Guam; and 2) regulate the practitioners out of business.
On Esperansa’s website are the words: “Where abortion is hidden abortion is tolerated.” We knew that by turning the light on and keeping the light on that the cockroaches would soon scatter.
We also knew that onerous regulation is usually death to a business. So we decided to regulate the abortionists out of business through incremental legislation aimed at tightening the noose around an industry that pretty much had free rein in Guam for decades and very much needed to operate in the dark in order to survive.
Thus the abortionists did not advertise themselves as abortion providers but as Ob/Gyn’s and names like “The Women’s Clinic."
Esperansa was formed in 2008 and the last abortion clinic closed its doors in 2018. During that time Esperansa saw to the introduction of twelve bills, eight of which were enacted into law.
IMPORTANT: We knew that even if enacted into law, the new statutes would do little to curb abortion since there was little to no oversight or enforcement. Abortionists would just keep on doing their thing.
Our real aim though was to flush out the pro-aborts into the light, not the providers themselves as we knew that would stay hidden, but the pro-abort do-gooders.
PDN: Anita P. Arriola is joined by other authors of this letter: Ellen Bez; Annie Bordallo; Mariana Cook-Huynh; Lisa Dames; Moneka De Oro; Jayne Flores; Régine Biscoe Lee; Carlotta Leon Guerrero; Stephanie Lorenzo; Michelle Voacolo; Vanessa Williams and Kiana Yabut.
POST: Anita P. Arriola, Ellen Bez, Annie Bordallo, Mariana Cook-Huynh, Lisa Dames, Moneka De Oro, Jayne Flores, Régine Biscoe Lee, Carlotta Leon Guerrero, Stephanie Lorenzo, Michelle Voacolo, Vanessa Williams and Kiana Yabut are women leaders in the medical, legal, local government and civic communities on Guam.
We needed these people and here’s why. “Where abortion is hidden abortion is tolerated” so if we wished to reduce tolerance for abortion we first needed to “unhide” it and the best way to do that was to keep the ugly word “abortion” in the news and name names.
The pro-aborts themselves helped us do this.
The local media is notoriously pro-abortion, but that was all the better since they eagerly posted stories opposing our pro-life bills which gave us the open door to publicly answer back. Had we just submitted an isolated letter to the editor, our efforts would have been useless. But the pro-aborts helped us to keep the issue on or near the front page, which was precisely what we wanted since this kept the light on.
This is the real importance of the current "heartbeat bill." Again “the medium is the message.” It is not what the bill will do if enacted into law, but what the bill can do NOW which is to keep the word “ABORTION” in the public’s face and in the particular case of this bill to keep the humanity of the child (the child's heartbeat) in the public’s face as well.
So keep writing letters to the editor, call in to talk shows, post on social media, and go public whenever and wherever you can; but NOT with the intention of attacking abortion or defending unborn life, but with the purpose of drawing out the pro-aborts into the light and keeping them there long enough to self destruct.
That’s how you win. And that’s how Esperansa helped shut down an abortion industry which operated for decades in what was the easiest place to procure an abortion in the nation.
Here, I shall go through each of the Esperansa-backed bills that became law; but, key to Esperansa’s success was making use of a statute that had already been on the books for nearly three decades.
The abortion reporting statute already required abortion providers to provide a wealth of data to a government agency which then was lawfully required to publish an annual report. Prior to 2008, no report had never been published because it had never been asked for.
In 2008, Esperansa began to demand to inspect and obtain copies of the report. The government agency, which at the time was Medical Records at GMH (it is now Dept. of Public Health), didn’t know what we were talking about and dug up scraps of paper submitted by the providers over the years with many years completely unrepresented. (I have the "scraps" and at some point in the near future I will publish them.)
Eventually the agency got into conformance and we began getting the records required by statute. The abortion reports were a turning point as we could then highlight to the Guam public what was really going on.
Following are the bills, some of which had to be introduced multiple times, before they were finally enacted into law, and which, we believe, ultimately led not only to the closing of the last abortion clinic on Guam in 2018, but to the refusal of any local doctor to perform an abortion.
BILL 374-29 THE PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION BAN ACT OF 2008
Esperansa was organized in 2008. We were working with a set of facts: 1) no anti-abortion legislation had been introduced in two decades; 2) Guam was aborting nearly one child a day; 3) two thirds of those abortions were on women identifying their ethnicity as “Chamorro” (and thus mostly Catholic); and 4) traditional pro-life efforts (waves, marches, occasional street witnessing, etc.) were bearing little to no fruit
This is not to take away from the lives that were saved by private counseling efforts. However, the abortion reports were what they were. Babies were being killed in the womb at the rate of nearly one per day. Plus, there was a belief amongst several pro-life leaders at the time that abortions were mostly procured by outsiders (i.e. military). Perhaps these pro-life leaders, who were Catholic, could not believe that their own Catholic brethren were the primary customers of Guam’s aggressive abortion industry.
Moreover, at the time (2008), Guam was the easiest place in the nation to procure an abortion due to an almost complete lack of regulation. In 2008, there were only two abortion regulations on the books: 1) abortions had to be performed by a licensed physician; and 2) certain data about the abortions were to be reported. However, since no one, prior to Esperansa in 2008, had ever asked to inspect the reports, the law was entirely ignored.
Esperansa needed a “shocker” to get things going and put the pro-aborts on notice that there was a new game in town. So we began life with pushing for a ban on partial-birth abortion, a procedure that is pure, demonstrable murder given that the baby is pulled head-first half way out of the womb (thus the term “partial”), stabbed in the back of the head with a scissors, has its brains vacuumed out, its skull collapsed, and then "delivered."
At the public hearing we calmly presented the graphics and described each step in full detail. I believe we even had a physician do the presentation. Given the terrible nature of the procedure, no legislator dared vote against the bill and Guam’s first full anti-abortion bill was signed into law and remains law today.
Note: I say “first” because the infamous 1990 bill which banned abortion outright had no chance of success, particularly since then-Archbishop Apuron had inflamed the opposition by threatening to excommunicate any senator who didn’t vote for it. Apuron’s overreach probably caused the death of more children than any other single act because the opposition took the clearly unconstitutional issue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, costing the Government of Guam millions of dollars and scaring off any pro-life legislative efforts until the Esperansa Project was formed two decades later.
Another thing we did to go on offense is that we did not wait for our bill to be championed by its sponsor, then-Sen. Eddie Calvo. In fact Calvo told us that he would only sponsor the bill if we could assemble a support group of at least fifty people who would show up at the hearing. It was a smart move by Calvo but it was also an excellent lesson for Esperansa going forward as we did this for each subsequent bill. It was and is important because abortion legislation is usually not a “hill" lawmakers want to "die on."
Contrary to what some traditional pro-lifers want to believe, the majority of Guam' electorate is pro-abortion. For years the abortion reports demonstrated this fact with up to two-thirds of the women procuring abortion identifying themselves as “Chamorro.” And then there is the glaring fact that the majority of Guam voters passed up three demonstrably pro-life candidates in the last gubernatorial election (Rodriguez, Aguon, and Tenorio) and voted into office the most virulent public supporter of abortion in Guam’s history.
The next thing to understand is the pro-aborts false narrative about abortion being necessary to help poor women who cannot afford a child. Ultimately abortion is birth control and it is used to cover up illicit sexual relations. Birth control has a failure rate. And the most common form of birth control, condoms, has an 18% failure rate (according to the FDA). People use birth control to not get pregnant. So what do they do when they get pregnant? They abort the baby. Abortion is birth control. And birth control is the liberated woman’s ultimate control over a man. Or so she thinks. The reality is that birth control has liberated men from fatherhood. This is not a fact you can argue publicly. But it is important to understand what is really motivating the pro-aborts. They know abortion is murder, but “sex without consequences” is their real aim. On a spiritual side, I believe that the Holy Spirit cannot bless pro-life efforts when sacramentally married men and women employ birth control and play God with sex.
Before I move on to the other bills I want to share the real reason behind Esperansa’s legislative efforts. We had no confidence that these bills would make a dent in Guam’s abortion rate. In fact, we knew that once signed into law there would be no enforcement, and there wasn’t.
The idea though was to keep abortion in the news and then play off that news to keep the light on the cockroaches. Our other motivation was what we believed would be the ultimate impact of incremental legislation which was to make it too legislatively and regulatory onerous for anyone to want to engage in the abortion business. In fact, I recall one of the pro-abort doctors, testifying at a public hearing, that “if this keeps up no doctor will want to do abortions.”
Exactly. And that is exactly what happened.
BILL NO. 323-31 THE PARENTAL CONSENT FOR ABORTION ACT
Moving on to Parental or Guardian Consent Required for Abortion (P.L. 31-155). With this one we focused on parental rights and not on abortion. The bill was a bit of a joke because the reality was that it wasn’t minors who were seeking abortions, it was the parents who were dragging their daughters to abortion clinics.
But we kept the focus on how without this law a minor could be impregnated by an adult and then forced to get an abortion to cover up his criminal act. We found several accounts of this happening and kept this fact in front of the public. No senator wanted to be seen as supporting sexual molestation of minors, so the bill passed and was signed into law.
I say "kept this fact in front of the public," because merely keeping such facts in front of the lawmakers means nothing. Lawmakers only care about what the public cares about. So we kept THE FACTS in front of the publics by constant letters and call ins to radio talk shows. It was arduous and sometimes costly to ourselves personally.
However, if you are going to win, you must know how to use the media. The media's ultimate objective is to FILL A NEWS HOLE. The media may or may not support your position, but controversy drives readership and readership drives advertising dollars. Give them something to fill their NEWS HOLE.
BILL NO. 52-31 THE WOMAN'S REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH INFORMATION ACT OF 2011
Next was The Women's Reproductive Health Information Act of 2012 (P.L. 31-235). This bill was introduced three times, the first being in 2008. And, because the law could not be fully enacted until 2013 (See: P.L. 32-089), it was a five year battle.
And because the bill required printed materials with photos and medical diagrams, it also cost thousands of dollars to procure copyrights, etc.
Throughout this bill we kept the focus on “Women’s Rights,” specifically a woman’s right to make an INFORMED choice.” So we used the pro-aborts own language “pro-choice” to turn the tables on the opponents.
It was a very bitter battle. The pro-aborts kept trying to villainize us with their usual playbook, but because we kept the focus on women’s rights, we ultimately won the day.
Once again, please note, we did not use the “life is sacred” stuff or even “abortion is murder,” because that is exactly what the pro-aborts were waiting for. And we never gave it to them.
BILL NO. 195-32 INFANT CHILD'S RIGHT TO LIVE ACT
Next came the Infant Child’s Right to Life Act (P.L. 32-090). This one also had a long history, being initially introduced in 2011 where it stalled in committee. And then reintroduced in 2013 by the same senator who had killed the bill two years earlier and then had a change of heart. The bill required normal medical care for children who survived abortions.
We pushed this legislation to create a stage where we could expose the true horror of abortion: a living child, completely delivered, and laying on the delivery table, is killed and thrown in the trash.
We also pushed this through because we wanted to bait the pro-aborts to out themselves on video at a public hearing. Sure enough, they came out and we got them on video.
The most prominent opponent of providing medical care to a living survivor of abortion and therefore killing the child was Lou Leon Guerrero. We kept the focus on infanticide, not abortion. Also, the idea of murdering a just born child was too much for even Guam’s abortion supporting public and the lawmakers knew that.
BILL NO. 412-32 GESTATIONAL AGE REPORTING REQUIREMENT
P.L. 32-217, introduced in Oct. 2014 had a relatively short route, becoming law in Dec. 2014. There wasn’t much to do with this once it was introduced. The bill required abortion providers to include gestational age in abortion reports. We kept it low key and “matter of fact” because we did not want to raise suspicion nor opposition if we didn’t have to.
However, it was one of the most important bills given that it formed the basis for subsequent legislation such as the current heartbeat bill which largely depends on the gestational age of the child and the approximate age a heartbeat should be sought. It also helped Esperansa publicize that some, if not many children, were being torn apart limb from limb (Dilation & Extraction) or burned to death in the womb and then delivered dead (Saline), particularly gruesome procedures performed on later term children.
BILL NO. 231-33 UNBORN VICTIM'S OF VIOLENCE ACT
The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2016 was introduced twice before finally reaching the floor for a successful vote. The bill criminalized harming or killing the child in the womb in acts of violence against the mother. So it was functionally a pro-woman, pro-mother bill.
However, in order to criminalize the harming or killing the child in the womb the child in the womb had to be legally defined as a human person deserving of rights. So the opposition fought tooth and nail to keep this one from seeing the light of the day.
On the first go around the pro-aborts in the legislature tried a new and successful tricky tactic. By then they had grown wise to our pushing them into public debates where we could expose them as baby killers. So they let the bill go to a vote and then voted it into what is called the 3rd Reading File without debate. The 3rd Reading File was where bills were sent awaiting a final vote. When the bill came up for a final vote, the pro-aborts quietly, and out of the eye of the camera, voted it down.
The bill was also poorly drafted and it allowed holes for the pro-aborts to vote it down on the basis of technical issues instead of being seen as hostile to the women it was designed to protect. So the next go around, Esperansa recruited legal help and made sure that the new bill was consistent with Guam law.
The pro-aborts knew what we were up to, especially since this was already old legislation in many states, and opposed it because it was the “camel’s nose in their tent” in that the legislation defined an unborn child as follows: unborn child shall mean a child in utero, and the term “child in utero” or “child, who is in utero” means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb. 9 GCA § 17.03 (b).
Again Esperansa kept the focus on “women’s rights” and forced the pro-aborts to look like they were hostile to women if they opposed it. Once again, avoiding the defensive position of “life is sacred” etc.
BILL NO. 168-33 ABORTION REPORTING
Finally, Esperansa pushed through the most important legislation of all. P.L. 33-218 increased the penalties of non-compliance of abortion reporting law and added reporting mechanisms to better insure enforcement.
Prior to this there was actually no enforcement and no consequences for not reporting. We knew that this law would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. “Where abortion is hidden abortion is tolerated” says the Esperansa website. And we knew that fixing the abortion reporting law would ultimately shed too much light on the “providers.”
So they quit and there has been no one to replace them, at least not publicly.
Again, we did not make a big deal about abortion taking a human life or anything close to that. We stayed focused on stuff that was hard to contest. We kept detailed reporting on almost everything else relative to medical issues, so there should be no exception for abortion.
Per my own memory, no one publicly opposed it. In fact Esperansa did not publicize or invite others to the public hearing. The lawyer who wrote the bill was the only person we asked to testify. His testimony was airtight and the bill passed and was enacted in to law.
In thinking about the "heartbeat bill" and how Esperansa would help it through, I believe the best chance for getting it passed would be to again make it a “hill” that senators aren’t willing “to die on.”
It truly isn’t worth it to them. For the most part lawmakers don’t want to be seen as baby killers. They may say some things to pacify their pro-abort donors, but they have nothing to gain by voting against the bill. They know that like previous bills, except maybe for the abortion reporting bill, there will be no oversight and no enforcement.
At the hearing, if I were to testify, I would lay out the precedent being set by other states and the reason those states, much larger than Guam, have chosen to enact the same legislation.
Then, I would ask “Do we, as an island family, which prides ourself so much on family, want to be the one of the last jurisdictions in the nation to enact protections for unborn children whose hearts are already beating?”
- Apr. 8, 2002. Pacific Daily News. 'Heartbeat Bill' introduced in Guam Legislature - LINK
- Apr. 8, 2022. Pacific News Center. Recent bill would ban abortions after 5-6 weeks - LINK
- Apr. 8, 2022. Kandit News. Anti-abortion bill introduced on Guam - LINK
- Apr. 8, 2022. KUAM. Women's Affairs director lashes out at abortion ban bill - LINK
- Apr. 9, 2022. Pacific Daily News. Letter: Guam Heartbeat Act is not a pro-life bill. By Jayne Flores - LINK
- Apr. 9, 2022. Guam Daily Post. 'Abortion foes push for tougher law' - LINK
- Apr. 9, 2022. Pacific Daily News. Letter: Church feels repsonsible to speak for unborn - LINK
- Apr. 11, 2022. Pacific Daily News. Letter: Copycat abortion bill is 'dangerous, outrageous' - LINK
- Apr. 11, 2022. KUAM. Guam People for Choice lobbying against Nelson's Guam Heartbeat Act - LINK
- Apr. 11, 2022. Pacific Daily News. Flores: 'This bill is an attempt to control women’s bodies' - LINK
- Apr. 11, 2002. K57. ATTORNEY ANITA ARRIOLA TALKS THE GUAM HEARBEAT ACT OF 2022, WITH PATTI - LINK
- Apr. 12, 2022. Guam Daily Post. 'Heartbeat' bill spurs celebration, criticism amid national challenges to abortion rights - LINK
- Apr. 12, 2022. Kandit News. The abortion debate begins - LINK
- Apr. 13, 2022. Pacific Daily News. Zerzan: Abortion is not a women’s health issue - LINK
- Apr. 13, 2022. Guam Daily Post. Criticism of anti-abortion bill really misses the mark. By Tim Rohr. - LINK
- Apr. 13. 2022. Guam Daily Post. Sgro reacts to director's statement on recent abortion ban legislation - LINK
- Apr. 14, 2022. Guam Daily Post. There is no medical justification for abortion. By Marjorie DeBenedictis. - LINK
- Apr. 14, 2022. Pacific Daily News. Letter: Arguments against abortion bill not supported by facts. By Tim Rohr - LINK
- Apr. 14, 2022. Pacific Daily News. Letter: Bill 291 punishes mainly poor women. By Joe von Rodeck. LINK
- Apr. 15, 2022. Longview News Journal. Archbishop to lead anti-abortion prayer service today - LINK
- Apr. 17, 2022. Pacific Daily News. Letter: Bill 291-36 is dangerous By “Guam People for Choice” - LINK
- Apr. 18, 2022. Pacific Daily News. Our View: Let your voice be heard on the "Guam Heartbeat Act of 2022" - LINK