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‘Abortion reversal’ bill moves to Senate floor

Abortion reversal bill: Sen. Lori Den Hartog presents her bill before the Senate State Affairs Committee.

Credit: Kyle Pfannenstiel
Abortion reversal bill: Sen. Lori Den Hartog presents her bill before the Senate State Affairs Committee.

— On a party-line vote, an Idaho Senate panel passed a bill to inform patients considering an abortion about a medical abortion reversal procedure that is scientifically unproven.

The bill, SB 1243, would modify Idaho’s informed consent packets to include information about the reversal procedure and who to contact to get more information. If passed, Idaho would join Utah, Arkansas and South Dakota, who have similar laws.

Some committee members who voted in favor of the bill did so because it would only change the language on informed consent packets.

“If she wants — that’s the language of this proposed statute — giving the woman the choice. If she wants to consult with such healthcare provider, that she should contact such healthcare providers before she takes the actual drugs. That’s it,” said Sen. Kelly Arthur Anthon, R-Burley.

The procedure would only potentially work for those who take the first of two medical abortion pills and want to halt it to have a regular pregnancy.

There is no medical or scientific consensus of the procedure’s effectiveness or potential side effects. The procedure calls for use of the hormone progesterone to counteract the first pill. The over two and a half hours of public testimony focused on it unproven nature.

“Large medical organizations are opposing this law because it has not been proved… So, I have a concern about offering something that has not been proved yet,” said Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum. She and the committee’s other Democrat opposed the bill.

Dr. Matthew Harrison, medical director at Abortion Pill Reversal, a national medical organization, claims his group has a 55 percent success rate through progesterone injections.

“There’s been no side effect, other than death of the embryo, if the woman only takes the (first) abortion pill,” he said.

He said he has co-authored a study on the reversal procedure’s effectiveness that was approved for publication. But, the results are not ready for the public as it has not undergone peer-review.

Terry Lennaire, a nurse in Idaho, said the “multi-step process of a medical abortion leaves a woman vulnerable,” and that information on the procedure could help to alleviate that.

“If she were told that she has any chance at all (to have a regular pregnancy after taking the first pill), she would be willing to take the risks, and women do take risks all the time to save the lives of their children,” she said.

All health professionals who testified Monday spoke in favor of the legislation. A planned parenthood official said this was likely because of the threats abortion-practicing physicians receive.

Some worried that the information about reversals would add more stress to women seeking abortions.

“I promise you women don’t need any more informed consent than this state already has,” said Marcie Glass, a pastor at South Minister Protestant Church. “There are a lot of things that a woman has to go through right now, if they want an abortion.”

Idaho’s informed consent packets currently, by statute, inform patients that they have the right to view an ultrasound to observe a heartbeat, descriptions of a typical 2-week old fetus and descriptions of current abortion practices.

SB 1243 now needs to be pass the Senate, the House and be signed by the governor to become law.

– Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.


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