The Gift of Life. The Gift of Love.
Immediate Release: February 14, 2011
Hafa Adai my fellow Guamanians,
I first want to tell you about my wife, our First Lady, Christine. It’s Valentine’s Day, and she’s brought so much love and joy into my life. Honey, I love you, and I can’t wait to spend time with you and the kids after work. And to all the couples out there, and all the families and friends celebrating love, Happy Valentine’s Day.
As a parent, my very first job is to love my children, protect them, and give them all the happiness my heart can give. So, as a governor, my first instincts are to protect children. We have to create conditions for them to grow up in loving homes. We have to give them opportunities to be happy. Ultimately, our generation has a responsibility to the next. In any decision Ray and I make, you can bet your bottom dollar that its impact on children will be at the top of our minds. They count on us to be there for them. They deserve our undivided attention to prepare them for adulthood.
Children need us from the earliest stages of their lives. The unborn are the most defenseless among us. They have no voice for those who will advocate for them to live. They cannot fight the laws that discriminate against their humanity. That is why, from the depths of my soul, it has been so important for me, as a public servant, to stand up for the unborn.
I introduced two measures in the legislature to limit abortion. The first requires doctors to give women medically-accurate information about the procedure at least 24 hours before an abortion. Women have a right to know about the risks and the post-operation complications. And, maybe if they did, the decisions they make not only could be good for their health, but could spare the life of a child.
The second measure limits abortion when the unborn baby can feel pain. Nothing in my conscience can convince me that suffering an unborn child to a painful death is right. Our laws cannot continue depriving unborn children of the most basic civil right.
But the responsibility to stand up for the voiceless and defenseless doesn’t end with the unborn. How many children are born into poverty? How many live with disabilities? How many are unwanted, unloved and unnoticed? The solution isn’t to cut their lives short inside the womb. The solution is to improve their lives as they grow. Children must be brought in to this world with love. They should know love as they grow up. How fitting, that on this day, we can share a message of love, and it can be dedicated to the children of Guam.
My wife and I brought six beautiful children in to this world. When she became First Lady, she thought about her life these past 24 years we’ve been married. She thought about her commitment to our family, and she decided that as First Lady, she now has a commitment to all families.
Christine and I have been touched very deeply by the plight of children who need foster homes, who live with disabilities, and at-risk youth silently screaming for a chance to live happy lives. She will be leading efforts to find more foster homes for children in need. She is committed to a literacy campaign to provide the youth with greater opportunities through education. She will be helping me in our crusade to build strong systems of care for children and adults living with disabilities. She is very much involved in the Guam Early Learning Council. And she will be in the community advocating athletic programs and resources for your kids.
I’ll be working with senators, government agencies, community leaders, and church officials on solutions to many of the problems eating away at families. I will work with UOG President Dr. Robert Underwood on research that helps us to understand how we can improve children’s lives. As I go around this island, I see many of the challenges, and just how comprehensive the solutions need to be. We need to provide students a better education, but it doesn’t end there. Many of our youth are living in shacks without any water or power. It is believed that hundreds are living with disabilities and never get any help. Some children grow up in an environment of abuse, drugs and neglect. They are bullied at school, they are abused at home, and their future becomes more bleak.
This is the greatest challenge of our time. We cannot allow poverty, rejection of people with disabilities, or the dismissal of unloved children to become generational. Despite our differences on the military buildup or government finances or any other issue of this day, we all have to come together as a community to save the lives of children throughout Guam.
The first step we will take is to involve the legislature’s most vocal advocates of these issues into the discussion. I will be contacting Speaker Won Pat, and Senators Aline Yamashita, Dennis Rodriguez, Judy Guthertz, Sam Mabini, Chris Duenas, Ben Pangelinan, BJ Cruz and other senators in the near future. From there, we can engage education, social services and community leaders into this forum. We need to look at solutions from all quarters — from social to financial policy.
We have to take a total look at our community from the need to create job opportunities, to housing, to education, and proper healthcare. This will be a lengthy and arduous process, but one that is long-overdue. Guam’s children deserve our best efforts.
Tonight, as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, Christine and I will say a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of life and the gift of love. They are inseparable blessings. Every child has a right to both.
Thank you, good night, and Happy Valentine’s Day.
**Video file will be delivered to PNC, KUAM and PBS today. It is available upon request.
The Gift of Life. The Gift of Love.