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Indiana “Abortion Reversal” Law Blocked by Federal Judge

A federal judge blocked an Indiana abortion law from going into effect that would have required abortion providers to give misinformation to patients seeking a medication abortion.

The law said doctors were obligated to tell their patients about the possibility of “abortion reversal”—a contested process for potentially stopping an abortion that has no scientific backing. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed the law in April, and it would have taken effect July 1.

U.S. District Judge James Patrick Hanlon made the ruling in late June, just before the “abortion reversal” law would have gone into effect. In his decision, he argued that the effectiveness of the “abortion reversal” process had never been proven, and that the reproductive rights groups who filed the lawsuit would likely be successful in proving their argument that the law’s requirement would infringe upon abortion providers’ rights to free speech. Hanlon was appointed by former President Donald Trump.

“While the State may require abortion providers to give a woman seeking an abortion certain types of information as part of the informed-consent process, that information must, at a minimum, be truthful and not misleading,” wrote Hanlon in his decision.

The “abortion reversal” process is said to reverse a medication abortion, although there is little accurate scientific evidence to prove this. In fact, attempting to reverse a medication abortion can be very dangerous.

Medication abortion uses two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, to terminate a pregnancy. Mifepristone is taken first, and misoprostol is taken 24 to 48 hours later. Proponents of “abortion reversal” claim that if a person changes their mind about ending a pregnancy after taking mifepristone, they can “reverse” the abortion by not taking misoprostol and instead taking large amounts of progesterone. However, the only clinical trial on this treatment was terminated after patients experienced severe bleeding and had to go to the emergency room, Rewire News Group reported.

“Women who use mifepristone for medical abortions should be advised that not following up with misoprostol could result in severe hemorrhage,” said UC Davis Health’s Dr. Mitchell Creinin, the principal investigator of the clinical study.

Several abortion-rights groups challenged the Indiana law in court, including Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, All Options, and others.

The plaintiffs of the case also argued that the Indiana law specifically targets abortion providers and patients seeking abortions. They wrote in the lawsuit that “no other healthcare providers are required to inform their patients about experimental medical interventions, the safety and efficacy of which are wholly unsupportable by reliable scientific evidence, and no other patients are required to receive such information as a condition of treatment.”

The American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also assert that there is no scientific backing to “reversing” a medication abortion, and information on the process’s safety is limited.

“Providers should not be forced to give patients inaccurate and dangerous information,” said the executive director of All Options, Parker Dockray. “Pregnant people deserve better—they need accurate information about all their options, and support to make the decisions that are right for them.”

Sources: The Hill 6/30/21; AP 6/30/21; Rewire News Group 7/9/21; Rewire News Group 12/6/19

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