Colorado Outlaws Medical-Abortion Reversal
So much for “choice.” A new Colorado law outlaws doctors’ prescribing of a medical-abortion-reversal treatment to prevent a termination from completing. From the newly signed S.B. 190:
A licensee, registrant, or certificant engages in unprofessional conduct or is subject to discipline pursuant to this title if the licensee…provides, prescribes, administers, or attempts medication abortion reversal in this state unless the Colorado Medical Board…and the State Board of Nursing…in consultation with each other, each have in effect rules finding that it is generally accepted standard of practice to engage in medication abortion reversal.
This is a case of pro-abortion ideology über alles. True, the reversal drug has not been approved by the FDA for this purpose — making the reversal treatment an instance of “off-label” usage — while the medical-abortion regimen (now the subject of intense litigation) has been FDA-approved for decades. But the use of drugs for puberty-blocking as part of “gender-affirming care” is also an instance of off-label drug use, and yet prescribing drugs for this purpose is strictly protected in Colorado.
Does abortion reversal really work? The jury is out.
A medical abortion involves a two-drug regimen. Sometimes taking only one of the two abortion drugs does not end a pregnancy.
Pro-lifers contend that taking high-dose progesterone orally within 24 hours of ingesting the first abortion drug — but not the second — improves the chances that the pregnancy can be saved. Indeed, one medical study (authored by pro-life doctors) found that a woman’s taking the reversal drug after she has taken only one of the two medical-abortion drugs can save a pregnancy:
This is an observational case series of 754 patients who decided to attempt to reverse the medical abortion process after taking mifepristone but before taking the second drug in the protocol, misoprostol. We followed the patients, who were given progesterone in an effort to reverse the effects of mifepristone, and conducted statistical analyses to determine the efficacies of different protocols compared to a control mifepristone embryo survival rate, derived from the literature.
Results: Intramuscular progesterone and high dose oral progesterone were the most effective with reversal rates of 64% (P < 0.001) and 68% (P < 0.001), respectively. There was no apparent increased risk of birth defects. Conclusions: The reversal of the effects of mifepristone using progesterone is safe and effective.
Pro-life organizations contend that thousands of medical abortions have been successfully reversed by this process. And 14 states have passed laws requiring that women seeking medical abortions be told about the possibility of reversal as part of the informed-consent process.
One Colorado pregnancy center just obtained a temporary injunction exempting it from the law on First Amendment grounds. The judge noted that abortion reversal is legal in every state but Colorado, and that while its efficacy “appears debatable, this treatment does not appear to pose severe health risks to patients who receive it.”
The Colorado law is an example of the stridency of pro-abortion advocacy post-Dobbs. Expect more progressive states to pass laws preventing abortion reversal and otherwise seeking to stifle pro-life pregnancy centers’ effectiveness in saving lives.
Meanwhile, more scientific research that studies the issue objectively, rather than through a distinctly ideological pro-choice or pro-life lens, is needed.