SOME ACTUAL FACTS ABOUT GUAM'S ABORTION REPORTING LAW

The following is from a just released PDN story:

Sen. Frank B. Aguon Jr., D-Yona, who wrote the law, asked whether Public Health verifies compliance with the abortion law, particularly the requirement that printed materials be made available to patients prior to the abortion, and that a checklist is completed, certifying that the patient received the information. The printed materials provide information about the development of the fetus and about alternatives to abortion. 

"We have not verified whether the law is being followed, as there may be issues related to HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996)," Public Health Director James W. Gillan said in a response letter to Aguon.

First, on the matter of "printed materials" (required by THE WOMEN'S HEALTH INFORMATION ACT OF 2012), while the Director of Public Health (Gillan) is required by the law to make the materials available to physicians who perform abortions, the Director is NOT responsible to certify that "the patient received the information." It is the duty of the physician or a "qualified person:"

§ 3218.1.(b)(3) At least twenty-four (24) hours before the abortion, the physician who is to perform the abortion or a qualified person has given the woman a copy of the printed materials described in Subsection (c) of this § 3218.1. 

The law continues:

(4) The information in Subsections (b)(l), (b)(2) and (b)(3) of this § 3218.1 is provided to the woman individually and in a private room to protect her privacy and maintain the confidentiality of her decision and to ensure that the information focuses on her individual circumstances and that she has an adequate opportunity to ask questions. 

(5) Prior to the abortion, the woman certifies in writing on a checklist certification provided by the Department that the information required to be provided under Subsections (b)(l), (b)(2) and (b)(3) of this § 3218.1 has been provided. 

Then the physician reports ONLY the "number of certifications," NOT the information on it:

All physicians who perform abortions shall report the total number of certifications received monthly to the Records Section. 

And note that the number is to be reported to the Records Section, NOT the "Department."

§ 3218.1. (a)(5) Department means the Department of Public Health and Social Services; 

§ 3218.1. (a)(14) Records Section means the Guam Memorial Hospital Medical Records Section.

It is NOT the Director of Public Health's responsibility to account for the "number of certifications." However, for some reason, the DPHSS abortion report form requires the checklist certification to be accounted for:



Full document here


Relative to the other data required on the abortion reporting form and whether or not the data presents "issues related to HIPAA" (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), almost all the information required by Guam's abortion reporting law is reflected in the Center for Disease Control's suggested templates for central health agencies:

  • Maternal age in years (<15, 15–19 by individual year, 20–24, 25–29, 30–34, 35–39, or ≥40)
  • Gestational age in weeks at the time of abortion (≤6, 7–20 by individual week, or ≥21)
  • Race (black, white, or other [including Asian, Pacific Islander, other races, and multiple races])
  • Ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic)
  • Method type (curettage,§ intrauterine instillation, medical [nonsurgical] abortion, or hysterectomy/hysterotomy)
  • Marital status (married [including currently married or separated] or unmarried [including never married, widowed, or divorced])
  • Number of previous live births (0, 1, 2, 3, or ≥4)
  • Number of previous abortions (0, 1, 2, or ≥3)
  • Maternal residence (the state, reporting area, territory, or foreign country in which the woman obtaining the abortion lived; or, if additional details are unavailable, in-reporting area versus out-of-reporting area)

One final note, the law referenced in the PDN story had nothing to do with the data already required by the abortion reporting law. The law, Public Law 33-218, simply addressed the issue of non-compliance by adding enforcement mechanisms and penalties. 

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