A 12-year-old girl who was raped and impregnated in Guam can't have an abortion because there are no providers in the US territory

  • Women living in the US territory of Guam must travel elsewhere if they want to get an abortion due to lack of abortion providers on the island.
  • While the island’s laws do permit abortions in the territory by a licensed doctor within 13 weeks, the island’s last abortion provider, Dr. William Freeman, retired in May 2018. The doctor who took over his practice is against abortion.
  • Since May 2018, when Freeman retired, no abortions have been reported on the island, according to Guam’s Office of Vital Statistics.
  • Lack of abortion access in Guam comes as heated debates about the procedure continue to unfold across the US, with a slew of stringent measures passed by states in recent months.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

A 12-year-old girl in the US territory of Guam who was allegedly raped and impregnated will have no choice but to give birth to the child – due to lack of abortion providers on the island.

Bureau of Women’s Affairs Director Jayne Flores shared the girl’s story with The Pacific Daily News. “It breaks my heart that the 12-year-old girl who got raped… has to have a baby,” Flores said, adding that the man was recently charged in court. “It breaks my heart that that girl will have to go through with her pregnancy because there’s no one on island that will help her.”

While the island’s laws do permit abortions in the territory by a licensed doctor within 13 weeks, the island’s only abortion provider, Dr. William Freeman, retired in May 2018. Women who try to terminate their pregnancy without the assistance of a doctor can be charged with third-degree felony.

As a result, women who want an abortion will have to travel elsewhere to seek the procedure – a costly and unfeasible option for many on the island. Anita Arriola, an attorney and longtime abortion advocate in Guam, told The Pacific Daily News in June 2018 that while women who have resources can travel off-island for illegal or legal abortions, many women cannot afford to do so.

She said there are few options for women across the region: abortions are banned in the Philippines and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; the procedure is only permitted in Japan under limited circumstances when the women’s health is at risk or if she is raped; and in Singapore, abortions are limited to the country’s citizens.

Hawaii, another option, is around 4,000 miles away and a nearly eight hour flight from Guam.

Since May 2018, when Freeman retired, no abortions have been reported on the island, according to Guam’s Office of Vital Statistics. The doctor who took over Freeman’s practice is against abortion and has made clear he won’t offer the procedure.

“I am deeply concerned for the people in Guam left without needed access to safe, legal abortion care, leaving no options for people who need care,” Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told INSIDER in a statement. “I’ve seen what happens when people can’t access the care they need – their heath suffers and they go without life-saving care. Health care must be recognised as a human right for all.”

“Our legislators and governor created an environment that has driven legal abortion providers away from Guam, and they’re setting up a system where women will perform their own abortions or travel at great lengths and great risk to get legal or illegal abortions,” Arriola told the Associated Press.

Heated debates about the procedure continue to unfold across the US, with a slew of stringent measures passed by states in recent months.

In April and May alone, the governors of Louisiana, Ohio, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Alabama signed some of the country’s most restrictive abortion bans. Anti-abortion measures so far this year in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah don’t allow exceptions for rape or incest.

None of these laws have formally gone into effect, and they are being challenged in court.

“This horrifying example is a heartbreaking reminder of the high price women and survivors pay when draconian policies outlaw abortion,” Amanda Thayer, NARAL Pro-Choice America Deputy Communications Director, told INSIDER in a statement. “The wave of abortion bans sweeping states across the US, several of which exclude exceptions for rape or incest, illustrates an ideology that shows absolutely no regard for the actual lives, health, or wellbeing of women.”

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