Idaho Senate to consider so-called ‘abortion reversal’ bill

February 12, 2018

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Senate will consider a proposal requiring women seeking medical abortions to be informed that drug-induced abortions may be halted halfway, despite opposition from medical groups who say there is little evidence to support the claim.

The legislation is the latest “abortion reversal” proposal to gain support in Republican-dominated state legislatures.

“This bill is all about giving women information about a very momentous decision,” said Sen. Lori Den Hartog, a Republican from Meridian, the bill’s sponsor. “We want women to have information, options and choices.”

The proposal is similar to an Arkansas law enacted in 2016. That version requires women to be told “it may be possible to reverse the effects of the abortion if the pregnant woman changes her mind, but that time is of the essence.”

Laws passed in Utah and South Dakota require women be informed that mifepristone — the drug that begins a medication abortion — does not always end a pregnancy if taken alone. An Arizona proposal was challenged in court and eventually dropped.

The Idaho proposal is expected to easily pass during the election-year legislative session.

To date, there is no evidence the abortion reversal procedure works and little information about its safety. Multiple medical groups across the country have cited potentially flawed science and ethical concerns.

“This reckless bill is bad medicine and a clear indication that legislators need to leave the practice of medicine to medical professionals,” said Mistie Tolman, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii. “Reversing a medication abortion is an unproven procedure with no basis in science. The legislature should focus on measures that actually improve access to health care.”

A medical abortion involves taking two drugs. The first — mifepristone — thins the lining of the uterus and loosens the connection between the embryo and the uterine lining. The second — misoprostol — softens and opens the cervix and causes contractions to push out the pregnancy.

A medical reversal abortion involves giving a woman the hormone progesterone after the first step of a medical abortion.

The idea became popular among anti-abortion groups after Dr. George Delgado in San Diego, California, published a paper in 2012 about six women who had taken mifepristone then had a series of shots of progesterone. Four of the six women had healthy babies; two others aborted.

Since then, Delgado says several hundred other women have received the treatment and he cites a 60 to 70 percent success rate.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted to advance the bill Monday with the committee’s two Democratic members opposing.

SB 1234 now moves to the Senate floor. It must also pass the House before going to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s desk.

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