Posted by Tim Rohr

On June 26, the PDN ran a story about the Mass and burial for 12 unclaimed human fetuses reportedly retrieved from the GMH morgue, and reportedly (from the information received from the Director of Public Health) were the result of miscarriages.

The next day, a story was posted at calling into question the claim that all the fetuses were the result of miscarriages, noting that GMH policy discourages "technological support" and recommending only "palliative care" for babies born as late as 27 weeks and weighing less than 750 grams, whereas premature babies in other places, born as early as 21 weeks, are being saved.

It appears from today's story that the PDN decided to do a little digging and found the following:

  1. 13 fetuses were actually retrieved
  2. Not all were from GMH. Nine came from GMH, three from GRMC, and one from the Medical Examiner's Office.
  3. And possibly NONE were the result of miscarriages: Of the 12 which came from both GMH and GRMC, the dead fetuses were the "results of still birth and death shortly after birth." The cause of death of the one from the Medical Examiner's Office was not noted, but a "delivery date" was reported -  from which we can deduce that it was also probably not the result of a miscarriage since miscarriages do not normally end up in the Medical Examiner's Office.

Since all of the "fetuses" were actually born (still born, died after birth, or delivered), "fetus" is the incorrect term. These are the bodies of children, legal persons, which is why their bodies were probably kept in the morgue and not disposed of otherwise. Guam law (10 GCA, Chapter 4A Dead Bodies) requires:

All unembalmed dead human bodies shall be buried or cremated within twenty-four (24) hours after death, unless kept under adequate refrigeration in the custody of the Director, or as many otherwise be authorized by the Director. 

Also, the story reported that according to the spokespersons of both hospitals, GMH and GRMC "do not perform abortions." We're not quite sure what that means since the hospitals do not perform anything, doctors and medical personnel do. However, what we do know is that the 2015 abortion report shows ONE abortion at GMH and the 2016 report shows that ONE abortion was performed at "Other."

We thank the reporter at the PDN for looking further into this. Regardless of one's position on the matter, we can't have our public agencies giving us wrong information.