RESPONSE TO PDN EDITORIAL, JUNE 28, 2017

By Tim Rohr


In "Our View: Repeal abortion law that violates patients' rights" (Pacific Daily News, June 28), the PDN editorial states:

A law passed late last year that requires women, prior to an abortion, to certify on a government checklist they have received information regarding the health risks of abortion must be repealed.

CORRECTION: The law referenced here did NOT pass "late last year." THE WOMEN'S REPRODUCTION HEALTH INFORMATION ACT, otherwise known as Public Law 31-235, was signed into law by Governor Calvo on November 1, 2012. The implementation of the law was delayed due to an 11th hour provision inserted into the bill just before it was voted on which required the legislature to approve the printed materials. However, the provision was removed by Public Law 32-089 which was enacted on November 27, 2013.  So the law has been in full effect going on four years.


The PDN editorial states:

The Department of Public Health and Social Services has decided not to verify whether the requirements are being followed, citing federal medical privacy laws.

CORRECTION: t is NOT the Director of the Department of Public Health who is required by the law to "verify the requirement are being followed." The law never even mentions the Director or his DepartmentThe duty belongs to the Director of GMH:

(§ 3218.1. (b)(5). All physicians who perform abortions shall report the total number of certifications received monthly to the Records Section. § 3218.1. (a)(14) Records Section means the Guam Memorial Hospital Medical Records Section.)

The PDN editorial states: 

The federal law includes a privacy provision that limits the disclosure of "individually identifiable health information" without the patient's approval, including demographic data relating to “the individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition (and) the provision of health care to the individual.”

CORRECTION: The only enforcement required by the law is for the abortion provider to: "...report the total number of certifications received monthly to the Records Section." Hardly "individually identifiable health information."


The PDN editorial states: 

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy before the fetus is viable outside the womb, and the Guam law that infringes on this right must be repealed.

CORRECTION: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that informed consent laws are constitutional. (Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 [1992]).  The Court stated that such laws reduce “the risk that a woman may elect an abortion, only to discover later, with devastating psychological consequences, that her decision was not fully informed.”

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