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Utah lawmakers plan medication abortion 'reversal' bill

December 1, 2016 — Utah Rep. Keven Stratton (R) and state Sen. Curt Bramble (R) plan to propose a measure requiring providers to share medically unfounded information with a woman seeking medication abortion, Deseret News reports.

Bill Details

The measure would require that providers tell women seeking medication abortion that the process can be reversed. Specifically, providers would tell women that they could potentially 'reverse' a medication abortion by ingesting progesterone after taking the first of two medication abortion drugs.

According to Deseret News, Arizona, Arkansas and South Dakota have passed versions of the requirement. However, Arizona lawmakers later repealed the measure following a legal challenge from Planned Parenthood.

Advocates voice concerns

Abortion-rights advocates and medical groups have criticized the proposal and similar legislation, noting that the medication abortion 'reversal' claim is not scientifically supported.

According to Deseret News, the claim is based on a 2012 study that found four of six women who took progesterone after taking the first part of a medication abortion carried their pregnancies to term. However, a 2015 research review on medication abortion 'reversals' found that the 2012 study was of poor quality because it did not have control groups and was not overseen by an ethics review panel.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has not voiced support for medication abortion 'reversal' claims, Deseret News reports. The organization in addressing the Arizona law explained that the 2012 study did not show that taking progesterone is more effective than simply not completing a medication abortion.

Separately, Leah Torres, an OB-GYN and reproductive-rights advocate, said, "That is not how science works ... That's not how you should practice medicine."

She said researchers have not adequately examined the safety and efficacy of using progesterone to stop a medication abortion. Torres said, "[Researchers] need to be able to answer the questions of: 'What are the risks of stopping a medica[tion] abortion? What are the risks to the [fetus]? What are the risks to the [woman]?'"

Karrie Galloway, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Utah, also voiced concerns about the proposal and said lawmakers were attempting to act as doctors. "We need a vigorous discussion with people who have the appropriate letters after their name -- who have done rigorous study to earn those letters after their name -- as our trusted health care providers," she said (Chen, Deseret News, 11/27).