Bill 195-32: Testimony of Bordallo & Bez

The testimony of Drs. Annie Bordallo and Bez, opposing Bill 195-32, the INFANT CHILD'S RIGHT TO LIFE ACT, a bill which would require a child who survives an abortion procedure to be treated as a human being under Guam law instead of medical waste, is MUCH TODO ABOUT NOTHING.

Bordallo and Bez go on an on about Guam Memorial Hospital policy in their testimonies. But the bill has NOTHING to do with GMH policy. The bill ONLY ADDRESSES infants who survive the abortion procedure. And according to GHM and Guam Medical Records, the hospital DOES NOT do abortions. 

The fact that GMH has a "cut-off" policy on who to save and who not save is another matter....and may well explain why Guam's infant mortality rate is reported to be double the national average. 

Below is a video and transcript of their testimony. 

Testimony of Drs. Bordallo & Bez

Public Hearing, October 10, 2013

Transcript of testimony of Dr. Annie Bordallo read by Dr. Ellen Bez and oral testimony of Dr. Bez

Written testimony of Dr. Annie Bordallo, read by Dr. Bez, opposing Bill 195-32

At Guam Memorial Hospital, a review of a federal statute that protects infants that are born alive regardless of gestational age or viability was undertaken. And a policy governing our responsibilities to the newborn, its parents, and the community, was agreed upon by the OB-GYN’s and the Pediatrics Department. 
The governing body of the medical staff as well as the Board of Trustees reviewed and approved this policy. These physicians reviewed current medical data regarding survival rates and subsequent morbidity and determined that a gestational age of 24 weeks and a weight of 500 grams as the threshold for viability where resuscitation is mandated. 
A clinical assessment by the obstetrician for pre-viable infants and in cases of undetermined gestational age, the pediatrician would determine the need for resuscitation. Specific clinical factors would guide the physicians in their assessments. 
This bill does not allow for any clinical assessment before activating the EMS system and engaging resources we cannot afford to save infants that have no chance of survival. By not including an assessment of viability, reasonable medical care cannot be defined. 

The sole purpose of this bill seems to set up criminal and civil penalties directed against doctors who provide these services to patients in need of them. It goes so far as to include a civil action of wrongful death when an infant, who cannot be saved by any medical intervention, dies. 

The ability of our community to respond to the medical needs of everyone is dependent upon judicial use of our scarce resources. 

A review of medical standards that are appropriate for the level of care available on Guam should determine what interventions we undertake for all segments of our community. 

This legislation has little role in specifying what those interventions should or shouldn’t be. 

Oral testimony of Dr. Ellen Bez 

The hospital, department of pediatrics, department of ob-gyn, the medical executive staff, reviewed what would be appropriate to adhere to the federal mandate of declaring that when an infant is born it is a live birth. That’s federal legislation.

So you have skilled, trained doctors who have spent 12 years of their life studying medicine and they come up with a policy that everybody approved in those departments for how to handle the care of a live born infant when there’s different circumstances around it, whether it be a very young gestational age, an indeterminate gestational age, and they’ve agreed on a policy, a policy that everybody’s approved. And now you have a bill that takes that away and makes you the people that makes that decision. 

It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense to us, when the policy is already established, approved, and taken care of within the hospital where it should be taken care of. And to call, as you’ve heard my friends say here, that when we have limited resources you’re gonna ask an EMT an ambulance to come out when we have not enough ambulances to take care of the people who potentially could be saved by an immediate intervention and come out and use those resources. 

I mean, I just don’t understand, in this time of limited resources, of serious health care issues, that we face every day, that for such a narrow issue, that this is what you’re spending your time doing. I mean, again, it just doesn’t seem to represent the greater needs or our community. And for that, we object to this bill. 

And also that these are issues that doctors in hospitals, in boards, in committees, need to make those decisions. We shouldn’t be regulated by laws. And it’s already been done. And it already adheres to federal standards and federal mandates. 

And another two points. In this bill in terms of criminal penalties, under civil and administrative action, it says in addition to whatever remedies are available under the common or statutory law of this territory failure to comply with this requirement of the Act shall provide a basis for recovery for the parents of an infant or a parent guardian of the mother if the mother is a minor for the wrongful death of an infant whether or not the infant was viable. So you have a child, an infant, in our medical opinion has no chance of survival, yet the physician can still be held responsible? I mean, what is that? I mean that just doesn’t make any sense. 

So when an infant is born, that in all medical opinion has no possible chance for survival the doctor can still be held liable for that death as a wrongful death? Again, it doesn’t make any sense, it just really doesn’t. 

And the last thing I’d like to say is one of the closing paragraphs in this bill is that nothing in this act shall be construed to alter generally accepted medical standards. And I’ll tell you, almost everything in this, almost everything in this bill goes against accepted medical standards in terms of doing heroic measures for a child that’s born that in all medical opinion has no chance for survival. 

The use of resources of limited valuable resources and the money it takes to keep an infant alive for days when it can save a hundred kids in school when it can give them school lunches or whatever medical care these children...and I see them at my rape crisis center, don’t get the medical care that they need and have nobody to take care of them. And this is what we’re using our time and our resources for? Again, I object to this bill on those grounds.