Guam governor, attorney general face off over decades-old abortion ban

By Kalvis Golde
May 15, 2024

In the 1990s, a federal district court in Guam blocked a total ban on abortion enacted by the territory’s legislature because it conflicted with Roe v. Wade. After the justices overruled Roe two years ago in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Guam’s attorney general sought to lift the hold on the ban. But the Guam Supreme Court, in response to a request by the territory’s governor, ruled that the ban cannot be revived because more recent abortion laws have effectively wiped it from the books. This week, we highlight petitions that ask the court to consider, among other things, whether the Guam Supreme Court had the authority to wade into the dispute.

When the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutional right to abortion in its 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, it surprised many who doubted that the court was willing to defend Roe after two decades of fighting over abortion. Among the skeptics was the Guam legislature, which in 1990 enacted a total ban on abortion, wagering that the tides would soon shift and states and territories would be allowed to regulate abortion on their own. A federal court quickly put the ban on hold, agreeing with the challengers that it violated Roe. When Casey ultimately upheld Roe, that hold remained in effect.


Bodily autonomy: Australian women still face obstacles when seeking abortion services

6 May 2024

In July last year, following a Senate inquiry into universal access to reproductive healthcare, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) removed restrictions on prescribing and dispensing the medical abortion pill MS-2 Step (mifepristone and misoprostol).

As a result, medical practitioners are no longer required to complete mandatory training and registration to provide this service. The lifting of restrictions means “MS-2 Step can now be prescribed by any healthcare practitioner with appropriate qualifications and training, without the need for certification”.


Witch doctors, coconuts and sexual assault: Inside Vanuatu’s disturbing world of unwanted children.

By Marian Faa
2 May 2024
Photo story

The price of taboos

Around the world, heated debates about abortion are taking place. But in the Pacific, the topic is so taboo, only a handful of people are willing to talk about it. You’re about to hear from some of them.
WARNING: This story contains graphic details of sexual assault and violence against children.


Canada has announced free contraception for women. What’s the situation in Australia?

Reproductive experts and sexual health advocates are calling for a similar change in Australia.

1 April 2024
by Gavin Butler

The Canadian government announced on Saturday that it will soon cover the full cost of common contraceptives for women – including intrauterine devices (IUDs), contraceptive pills and hormonal implants – as part of a major health care reform.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada's deputy prime minister and Minister of Finance, highlighted the financial cost of contraceptives as one of the largest barriers to access, and said that the federal government's universal pharmacare plan would aim to lower that bar for more than nine million Canadian women, whether for reasons of family planning or medical treatment.


Australia – Victorian doctor suspended amid investigation into woman’s death after abortion

Women’s health clinic boss claims ‘witch hunt’ after Dr Rudolph Lopes suspended in weeks following 30-year-old’s death

Australian Associated Press
Fri 15 Mar 2024

A doctor working at a women’s health clinic in Melbourne has been suspended as a regulator revealed it was aware of concerns about other practitioners there. The facility’s boss claims it is a “witch hunt”.

It follows the death of 30-year-old mother Harjit Kaur, who died in January at the Hampton Park Women’s Clinic after what was described as a “minor procedure”.

It was later identified as a pregnancy termination.


Equitable access to abortion care is still not a reality in Australia

Asvini K Subasinghe and Seema Deb
Med J Aust 2024; 220 (3): 134-135. || doi: 10.5694/mja2.52210
Published online: 19 February 2024

The 2023 Senate inquiry into universal access to reproductive health care identified major structural barriers to abortion care in Australia.1 However, in the absence of a national abortion registry, it is unclear whether access is equitable and what factors influence the provision of abortion care. In two articles published in this issue of the MJA, researchers report large population‐based studies that investigated these questions in Victoria.


Guam – Year in Review: 2023 abortion rights, anti-abortion issues

John O'Connor | The Guam Daily Post
Dec 31, 2023

(February 2023-December 2023) The year 2022 was a significant time for both abortion rights and anti-abortion advocates, as that year saw the Supreme Court of the United States overturn a half-century of precedent and declare that the Constitution granted no right to an abortion in the U.S. This decision gave states and other jurisdictions greater latitude to regulate abortion, including the imposition of outright bans.

At the time of the Supreme Court decision, Guam was debating whether to pass an anti-abortion measure modeled after a Texas law - the Guam Heartbeat Act. The bill essentially would have banned abortions at six weeks, earlier than when women may know they're pregnant.


Abortion is now legal across Australia – but it’s still hard to access. Doctors are both the problem and the solution

December 5, 2023
Barbara Baird, Associate Professor, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University

Abortion is now fully legal in every jurisdiction in Australia. Western Australia became the last state to decriminalise it just two months ago, in September 2023. And the Australian population is solidly pro-choice: a 2021 study found 76% of Australians support access to abortion.

Yet access to abortion care here has been described as a “lottery” in a 2023 Senate inquiry report. My research into abortion provision in Australia over the past 30 years doesn’t describe chance, but an inadequate system.


Queensland introduces Australian-first law to allow midwives and nurses to prescribe abortion pills

Exclusive: Legislation hailed as big step towards providing fair access to terminations across state

Eden Gillespie
Thu 30 Nov 2023

Queensland will become Australia’s first jurisdiction to introduce a law to allow nurses and midwives to dispense pregnancy termination medication in a move expected to improve access in the state’s “huge abortion deserts”.

In August the Therapeutic Goods Administration scrapped restrictions on the prescription of medical abortion pills, known as MS-2 Step, to be used in the early stages of pregnancy. But it is up to individual jurisdictions to determine the specific healthcare practitioner and the appropriate qualifications for prescribing.


Victoria expands abortion services to more public hospitals to improve accessibility

Exclusive: Hospitals in Melbourne’s eastern and western suburbs, and in the Mornington Peninsula, will now offer surgical abortions

Benita Kolovos, Victorian state correspondent
Tue 28 Nov 2023

Every day Carolyn Mogharbel takes calls from distressed women facing hours-long journeys to Melbourne in order to access a surgical abortion.

Experts such as Mogharbel, a manager at the 1800 My Options program that provides free advice about reproductive health services, have said access to abortion in Victoria largely depends on where a woman lives.