17 Jun 2019

Guam government looks for abortion doctor after year-long vacancy

10:42 am on 17 June 2019

Guam has been without an abortion doctor for more than a year, forcing women who want the procedure to take expensive flights to other countries.

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Photo: Public Domain

The last abortion provider retired last May and since then no doctors have been willing to carry out abortions.

This is despite the staunch pro-choice position of Guam's governor, Lou Leon Guerrero, the first woman in the office.

Jayne Flores, the director of Guam's bureau of women's affairs, says the current options for women are costly and risky.

"The closest US place is Hawaii, which is about a seven hour flight and $US1,000 ticket. And then in the Philippines, which is only about a three hour flight away and much less cheaper to get to, the procedure is, I am told is supposed to be against the law but that there are doctors who will perform it on the quiet."

Jayne Flores said the government is trying to get private funding to bring an abortion doctor to Guam.

"I'm very sad and very nervous about what's happening across the nation," Ms Guerrero told The Associated Press last week, adding that she believed doctors in Guam would still perform abortions if a woman's life were in danger.

She said she feared without an active practising abortion doctor, women would be forced to seek illegal or dangerous alternatives.

Ms Flores also called for a better approach to sex education in the territory, saying of the 102 abortions in 2018 until the May cut-off, 71 percent were due to birth control not being used.

"What we need to do is make birth control more available, make women and teen girls more aware of their options," she said, adding that a high rate of sexual assaults also made it hard on women."