Indiana House approves ‘abortion reversal’ bill

The Indiana House has approved a measure on a so-called ‘abortion reversal’ procedure despite concerns from both sides of the aisle that the method hasn’t been sufficiently vetted.

Advocates of the procedure say providing women considering drug-induced abortions information on potentially stopping their procedure after taking the first of two drugs could give them a chance to save the fetus. But critics, including some anti-abortion Republican women, argue promoting a procedure that hasn’t been scientifically proven to work is irresponsible and far-reaching.

“At this point, the only certainty is confusion,” said Republican Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer. “I do not believe forcing medical professionals to provide medical advice on something that is not proven and incomplete is by any means the right thing to do.”

House Bill 1128 passed 54-41 Monday, with 17 Republicans voting against it. One lawmaker’s yes vote was added after initial vote tabulation.

Claims about the ‘reversal’ procedure stem from research done by Dr. George Delgado in San Diego, California. A paper he published in 2012 describes four of six women who had healthy babies after taking the first medication in a two-part medical abortion, when they received shots of the hormone progesterone.

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

The study is not considered high-quality research because it is small and has no comparison group. For women who change their minds after taking the first drug, doing nothing and waiting to see what happens may be just as effective as progesterone shots, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“This bill seeks to dictate medical practice based on junk science,” said Democratic Rep. Linda Lawson. “This is not a political event, ladies and gentlemen. This is between doctors and their patients.”

Supporters of Republican Rep. Ron Bacon’s bill acknowledge that the method is not a guarantee. The form Bacon’s measure would require the State Health Department to create, which would be given to women ahead of their drug-induced abortion, includes the disclaimer that no medical studies have confirmed it is possible.

They argue knowing the option is out there could give much-needed hope to women who change their mind after they leave the abortion clinic.

“It might be answered prayers, it might be disappointment,” said Republican Rep. Peggy Mayfield, a co-sponsor of Bacon's bill. “But they should have that opportunity.”

At least two states have enacted laws requiring doctors to tell women about the procedure. A third state’s law was challenged in court and later repealed.

Indiana’s proposal took a rare path to the House floor in that it was directed back to a committee that had already passed it for further amendments. It narrowly cleared the panel both times with a 7-6 vote, where two Republicans voted against it. Both voted no on the floor.

Earlier versions of the bill included no time frame for the ‘reversal’ procedure and mandated doctors ascertain the age of a fetus with an ultrasound.

The bill now moves to the Senate, which was considering amendments to a separate abortion measure as Bacon’s cleared the House.

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