Reproductive Rights

Medical Experts Are Challenging an Arizona Law that Forces Doctors to Lie to Women

Arizona health care providers filed a complaint in federal court yesterday challenging a recently passed state law requiring doctors to give patients false information, including that it may be possible to “reverse” a medical abortion.


via  Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

At issue is a provision in SB 1318, which passed 18 to 11 and is scheduled to take effect next month, that requires doctors to provide false information about medical abortions to those seeking abortion care. The law states that “new protocol has been developed to reverse the effects of a chemical abortion,” for women using the FDA-approved drug mifepristone, also known also as RU-486.

As Dr. Ilana Addis, chairwoman of the Arizona Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), points out, “The problem is that so-called medical abortion reversal is not FDA approved and has no good evidence to support it.”

Dr. Addis calls the provision on medical abortion reversal “tantamount to quackery,” in a joint statement with Dr. Julie Kwatra, legislative chair of the Arizona Section of ACOG, where they also call it “blatantly wrong” for Arizona legislators “to force doctors to counsel their patients about voodoo medicine.”

Those filing the complaint in federal court are doing so on the grounds that “the Act requires that women seeking an abortion receive false, misleading, and/or irrelevant information, which is harmful to Plantiffs’ patients, in violation of those patients’ Fourteenth Amendment rights.”

The complaint also expresses the concerns of doctors Addis and Kwatra, and writes “There is no credible evidence that a medication abortion can be reversed… Indeed, once an abortion has occurred, whether by medication abortion or by any other means, a woman is no longer pregnant, which cannot be reversed.”

This law is one in a series of legislative attacks reproductive rights in the state of Arizona. In the past year alone, Arizona has placed dramatic restrictions on medical abortions, and Governor Brewer signed a bill allowing state authorities to conduct surprise inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant. In 2012 the state of Arizona launched a website campaign designed to discourage women from having an abortion.

Media Resources: Arizona Capitol Times 5/30/15; ACLU Release 5/30/15; Feminist Newswire 4/1/14; 4/21/14; 11/27/12;

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