February 17, 2017

Bill would add abortion reversal pill to informed consent law

By Brigid Curtis Ayer

An Indiana House committee heard a bill to expand Indiana’s laws regarding informed consent for abortion to include information on nonsurgical, chemical abortion reversal. The Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC) supports the measure.

House Bill 1128, authored by Rep. Ron Bacon, R-Chandler, would require the Indiana Department of Health to develop a form that provides women information about an abortion pill reversal procedure. The form would list websites and telephone numbers that could provide more information on the potential reversal, as well as the names of local medical professionals who could aid in the procedure.

The measure was heard before the House Public Policy Committee on Feb. 8. Rep. Benjamin Smaltz, R-Auburn, chairman of the panel, said he would hold the bill to give panel members an opportunity to get their pending questions answered.

Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the ICC, who serves as the public policy spokesperson for the bishops in Indiana, testified in support of the bill. He said the measure would strengthen Indiana’s informed consent statute by ensuring that the mother is fully informed of the risks as well as options should she wish to reconsider her decision. “It gives the mother an opportunity to save her child,” said Tebbe.

Bacon, who works as a respiratory therapist, said he learned about the abortion pill reversal (APR) for chemical abortion when he met Dr. Christina Francis, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Fort Wayne, while attending a medical seminar. “If a woman changes her mind, there is a chance to reverse it,” Bacon said.

A medical or chemical abortion is a non-surgical, drug-induced form of abortion with a two-step process. The expectant mother takes pills containing Mifepristone (RU-486), and later takes Misoprostol (or Cytotec) to end the life of the baby. Mifepristone acts as a progesterone blocker which causes a miscarriage, and Misoprostol causes the woman to have contractions to expel the baby. To reverse a chemical abortion, a woman is given progesterone to counteract the progesterone-blocking first drug. Current abortion pill reversal is successful only after the first drug is taken.

Testifying in support of the bill, Ashley Sams of Indianapolis choked back tears and stopped several times to compose herself.

Shortly after taking the first round of abortion pills, Sams felt guilt and panic because she knew she made the “wrong choice.” Immediately, she began desperately surfing the Internet for a support group to help with her emotional breakdown, and stumbled across the abortion reversal pill.

“I found reversal help by accident,” Sams said. “That information should be provided to everyone who takes the abortion pill because we’re the ones that have to live with the consequences of our actions.” She successfully reversed her abortion using the APR method, and is the mother of a healthy, 17-month-old boy.

Patricia Stauffer, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, testified in opposition to the bill. She said the bill was unnecessary, and it only “seeks to stigmatize a woman seeking abortion.”

Dr. Katherine McHugh, a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist in Indianapolis with Indiana University Health, testified in opposition to the bill. She said she wanted to make a “simple point.”

“This is not vetted science, and it’s not good medicine.” McHugh said. “This is not good science, and it’s not good for my patients.”

Francis, who also serves as president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, testified in support of House Bill 1128. She said that giving a large dose of progesterone can allow a woman who has initiated the first round of progesterone blockers to induce an abortion to be reversed.

She said the use of progesterone to prevent miscarriage is safe and well-documented. The first recorded successful abortion pill reversal was documented in 2006. The reversal procedure is 70 percent successful, and does not increase the incidence of birth defects. Francis said the more women are aware of this option, the more success stories there will be.

Dr. Casey Reising, who described herself as a “womb to tomb” family practice physician at Magnificat Family Medicine in Indianapolis, testified in support of the bill. Reising said she is the only full-time physician trained in Natural Procreative Technology (NaProTECHNOLOGY) in Indianapolis, and has treated three patients with APR. NaProTECHNOLOGY is a new women’s health science that monitors and maintains a woman’s reproductive health and gynecological health. Reising said she is one of many NaPro-trained physicians who assist patients that call the APR reversal hotline. Reising treated Sams when she called the hotline to reverse her abortion.

The Abortion Reversal Pill Network reports there have been 300 successful births after using the reversal procedure. These documented abortion pill reversal cases are expected to be published in a medical journal in the near future by Dr. George Delgado, a family practice physician in San Diego who also serves as medical director for the Culture of Life Family Services.

Tebbe said he expects the bill to pass the House panel, and move to the House floor for approval by the end of February.

(Brigid Curtis Ayer is a correspondent for The Criterion.)

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