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August 04, 2023

Guam-Licensed OBGYN Physicians in Hawaii May Not Provide Abortion Services to Guam Patients Through Telemedicine

In Raidoo v. Moylan, issued on August 1, 2023, the Ninth Circuit determined that the informed-consent requirement in Guam’s Women’s Reproductive Health Information Act does not violate the Due Process or Equal Protection Clause.  The Act requires that women seeking abortions have an in-person meeting with a physician to receive certain medical information prior to an abortion.  Following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling, the Ninth Circuit applied rational basis review in assessing the constitutionality of the abortion-related law.  While acknowledging that Guam allows women to use telemedicine to obtain medication abortions, the Court determined that the in-person requirement does not undermine informed consent because it does not mandate that a non-medical professional provide the in-person medical disclosures, nor does it prevent the treating telemedicine doctor from also providing medical information to the patient. Further, although physicians who provide abortions are treated differently from similarly situated telemedicine providers, abortion implicates fetal life in addition to the patient’s health, and the in-person requirement bears a reasonable relationship to the legitimate governmental interest of safeguarding fetal life.

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