The pace of anti-abortion legislation nationwide shows no sign of slowing down — putting women’s health in peril.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has just signed into law an anti-abortion bill requiring abortion providers to tell patients that they may reverse a medical abortion if they change their minds. According to the law, which is scheduled to take effect on Aug. 1, doctors must provide a statement to patients that says, “If after taking the first pill you regret your decision, please consult a physician or health care provider immediately to determine if there are options available to assist you in continuing your pregnancy.”
However, the American Medical Association has disputed this claim. Additionally, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that scientific evidence for this is lacking. In a statement, the American College insists on the importance of facts, explaining that abortion reversal procedures “do not meet clinical standards” and that these “unfounded legislative mandates represent dangerous political interference, and compromise patient care and safety.”
Scientific evidence about abortion reversals is indeed severely lacking. Abortion pill reversals are experimental procedures. A recent study measuring the impact of abortion pill reversals was halted after 25 percent of participants required ambulance transport to a hospital for severe vaginal bleeding. This lack of rigorous testing should not be weaponized against women’s health care.
Louisiana is the latest state to pass this dangerous legislation. Six states already have similar requirements in place: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Dakota and Utah. Last week, a federal judge in Indiana blocked its abortion reversal law after a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and various health providers charged that abortion reversals “force medical providers to provide dangerous and unethical information.” U.S. District Court Judge James Patrick Hanlon conceded that the state had not proved the effectiveness of abortion reversals and that “information must, at a minimum, be truthful and not misleading.”
Similar challenges have blocked abortion reversals from taking effect in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee. In its testimony to the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee about abortion reversals last June, FFRF wrote: “Abortion pill reversal procedures are not backed up by scientific evidence. It is dangerous to suggest otherwise and health-endangering to codify it.”
This attack on abortion rights and women’s health care demands that secular voices be heard. The federal Women’s Health Protection Act is an opportunity for us to let legislators know that we will not stand for anti-science health care laws rooted in the religious motivations of others. The act protects women and health care providers against medically unnecessary restrictions and parameters, such as these unscientific and dangerous abortion reversal bills.
With the ultraconservative Supreme Court slated to hear a major anti-abortion case this fall, we must stand up for abortion rights now.