Letter to D. Crisostomo PDN 12/20/11

Tim Rohr

Mr. David Crisostomo
Managing Editor
Pacific Daily News

December 20, 2011


Dear Mr. Crisostomo:

Erin Thompson’s news story in today’s paper and the earlier story of November 9 dealing with the same issue, is an example of incredibly poor if not dangerous journalism.

In both entries, Ms. Thompson appears to be interpreting Guam law all on her own. Consider the statement of today wherein she states that Bill 323 “prohibits something that is already not allowed under Guam law.”

She cites no source. When reporting on legislative matters it is not uncommon for your stories to say “according to Senator so and so...” But here, we must assume that Erin Thompson is the authority who has determined that  Bill 323 is redundant legislation.

In addition, Ms. Thompson claims that the provision that supposedly makes Bill 323 redundant can be found in Title 19 Chapter 10. That particular chapter has to do with “Master and Apprentice” relationships and does not mention abortion.

This is a mistake that was repeated from her article of November 9 wherein she states: “...but the bill (Bill 323) only strengthens regulations that exist already in Guam law.
According to Guam Code Annotated, Title 19, Chapter 10, minors are allowed to seek certain kinds of medical care for pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, or substance abuse without parental consent. However, the law specifically states "it shall not include surgery or any treatment to induce abortion."

The section in the Guam code where that language is found is Title 19, Chapter 1, not 10. But again, we have Ms. Thompson, without a source for her opinion, interpreting Guam law for the public from the pages of your newspaper, pronouncing that Bill 323 “only strengthens regulations that exist already in Guam law.”

Really?? According to whom? Erin Thompson?

Aside from the fact that this interpretation is simply DEAD WRONG, this is just simply bad journalism, especially given the current pitch of the debate over this bill and the Governor’s rather loud public pronouncements about it. In short, your paper is saying, and incorrectly so, that there is no need for this bill, and, by implication, Governor Calvo doesn’t seem to have a clue about Guam law. That’s pretty dangerous stuff.

The November 9 article goes on to reference statements from Senator Cruz and Senator Rodriguez, but Ms. Thompson’s opinion is already rendered and BOTH Senators Cruz and Rodriguez are incorrect, with Cruz being more at fault due to his statement in the media that Public Law 22-84 (codified in 19GCA, Sec. 1111) already “explicitly prohibits a minor from consenting to anything that induces abortion.” Senator Cruz even claimed (on K57) to learn about the supposed redundancy by reading your paper that morning.

Ms. Thompson’s treatment raises the specter that she most likely received the information from Senator Cruz allowing Senator Cruz to hide his role in providing the false information. Since Senator Cruz is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Guam he can’t be ignorant about such a common thing as a minor’s right to disaffirm a contract which 19 GCA, Sec. 1111 addresses. I must therefore assume corrupt motives on the part of Senator Cruz and unfortunately he was able to corrupt your paper as well.

By not citing a source the onus of these mistakes lies on you as the managing editor. The best course of action would be for you to disavow the manner in which a PDN reporter acts as a legal interpreter and/or judge, and give equal time to those who claim Senator Cruz is not only wrong on the law, but purposely intended to mislead the public and embarrass the author of the bill.

In case you did not receive my earlier letter, I am copying here the reason why Senator Cruz is wrong and why your paper is wrong for perpetrating the misinformation that Senator Cruz intended to be perpetrated:


Under Guam law, a minor may enter into any contract (except three types of contracts enumerated in 19 GCA 1106 which are not applicable here) subject to the right of the minor to disaffirm the contract.  19 GCA 1107. 

On Guam, as in most jurisdictions, a minor may disaffirm (that is, nullify) contracts that he or she has entered into and refuse to pay for or restore goods or services which the minor received pursuant to the contract. 19 GCA 1108. 

Thus, when a party contracts with a minor he does so under risk of non-payment. 

There are, however, several exceptions to the right of a minor to disaffirm.  One in particular states that a minor who seeks certain kinds of "medical care and services"  from a hospital or clinic may not later disaffirm the contract with the hospital or clinic under which he or she received the "medical care and services."  19 GCA 1108 and 1111.  

The purpose of this exception is, presumably, to avoid discouraging hospitals and clinics from providing medical treatment to minors who would otherwise represent a significant non-payment risk. 

Abortion does not figure largely in this statute.  Instead, 19 GCA 1111(a)(3) simply notes that for the purpose of  the "medical care and services" exception to a minor's right to disaffirm,  "medical care and services" does not include abortion. 

Thus, in the same way that a minor can disaffirm most contracts that he or she enters into, a minor may disaffirm a contract that she enters into with an abortionist to obtain an abortion. 

Of course, an abortionist can (and likely does) demand payment before rendering any services.  So, the right of a minor to disaffirm is unlikely to put the abortionist at any financial risk. 

The reporter does not quote her source so we must assume that is her error. However, I am not asking for a retraction, I am requesting an interview allowing me to present the facts and why I think your paper was purposely misled by the person who sent you the incorrect information.

More to the point, 19 GCA 1101 et seq. does not require a minor to obtain consent from a parent (or anyone else) prior to obtaining an abortion.  Moreover, 19 GCA 1101 et seq. does not in any way prevent, prohibit, or qualify an abortionist's right to carry out an abortion on a minor.

If you have any questions, please call me at 483-0467. If you care to speak directly with an attorney, please contact Attorney Shane Intihar at 788-7833, shaneintihar@yahoo.com

More information can be found at www.GuamOpenGovernment.org

Thank you for your attention to my concern,

Tim Rohr