Monday, September 13, 2021

Federal Court Clears Way For Telemedicine Medication Abortions On Guam

In Raidoo v. Camacho, (D GU, Sept. 3, 2021), a Guam federal district court issued a preliminary injunction that permits Guam-licensed physicians who reside in Hawaii to remotely supply medication abortions to women on Guam through teleconference consultations with the medication delivered by mail.  According to the court:

In 2018, the last abortion physician on Guam retired, and no local doctor has stepped in to fill the vacancy....  While Plaintiffs claim there are physicians on Guam willing to provide pre- and post-abortion care, none are willing to provide abortion services directly, as “[a]nti-abortion stigma discourages even supportive local doctors from incorporating abortion services into their practice.”

The legal impediment to the proposed procedure are provisions in the Guam Public Health Code §3218.1 that require certain information to be given to the woman "in person" and "individually and in a private room." The court said in part:

Here, Defendants fail to rebut Plaintiffs’ argument that the in-person requirement serves no benefit to a legitimate state interest.... Defendants failed to offer any evidence that supports their position that in-person communication is superior to live, face-to-face video conference.

KUAM News reports on the decision. The Archbishop of Agaña, head of the Catholic Church in Guam, reacted to the decision.