Federal judge blocks ‘abortion reversal’ disclosure requirement

A federal judge has blocked a new Indiana law that would have required abortion providers to inform patients about the possibility of “reversing” a medication abortion.

The Wednesday ruling prevents House Enrolled Act 1577 from taking effect tomorrow as scheduled.

Indiana Southern District Court Judge James Patrick Hanlon granted the preliminary injunction sought by All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, Women’s Med Group Professional Corp., Planned Parenthood affiliates and Hoosier health care providers. They argued the reversal disclosure requirement was “a bogus claim that may lead some patients to have an abortion based on the mistaken belief that they can later undo its effects.”

Under HEA 1577, providers would have been required to inform patients, “Some evidence suggests that the effects of Mifepristone may be avoided, ceased, or reversed if the second pill, Misoprostol, has not been taken. …”

But according to a Wednesday news release from the New York-based Lawyering Project, which is serving on a team of lawyers for the plaintiffs, “There is no scientific evidence that a medication abortion can be reversed after a patient has taken the first medication, and leading medical organizations oppose laws that require healthcare providers to inform their patients of this false and misleading claim. Forcing providers to give their patients this misinformation is both unethical and unconstitutional; courts in North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee have blocked similar restrictions.”

Hanlon found a reasonable likelihood of success on the plaintiffs’ claim that the required disclosure violates the First Amendment, writing that providers can only be required to provide “truthful and not misleading” information.

“Plaintiffs have shown a reasonable likelihood of being able to show that the Required Disclosure is not” truthful, Hanlon wrote.

But, he continued, “In reaching this conclusion, the Court does not discredit the State’s witnesses or the concept of abortion pill reversal, nor does it prevent the State from sharing information about abortion pill reversal with women who are considering medication abortions. Rather, the Court finds that because the evidence in the record does not fit with the language of the Required Disclosure, that evidence does not demonstrate that the Required Disclosure is truthful and not misleading.”

In a statement to Indiana Lawyer, Republican Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said his office is “reviewing the order and determining next steps. I remain committed to protecting the sanctity of life and women’s health under the rule of law as my highest priority.”

The complaint also challenges a provision of HEA 1577 prohibiting medication abortions via telemedicine. Additionally, a provision of Senate Enrolled Act 3 prohibits abortion via telehealth.

Representatives from All-Options, Whole Woman’s Health, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana praised Hanlon’s ruling.

“We are thrilled that the judge has blocked implementation of this law until we have a chance to fully challenge it in court,” Parker Dockray, executive director of All-Options, said in a statement. All-Options, lead plaintiff in the case, operates a pregnancy resource center in Bloomington.

“Providers should not be forced to give patients inaccurate and dangerous misinformation about ‘reversing’ an abortion,” Dockray said. “Pregnant people deserve better — they need accurate information about all their options, and support to make the decisions that are right for them.”

The case is All-Options, Inc., et al. v. Attorney General of Indiana, in his official capacity, et al., 1:21-cv-1231.

For more on this case and national abortion litigation, see the July 7 issue of Indiana Lawyer.

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