A new front in the reproductive rights war: “the abortion pill reversal”

Although research remains immature, not everyone is quick to dismiss its basic medical logic. “It makes biological sense,” says Dr. Harvey Kliman, director of the Reproductive and Placental Research Unit at the Yale School of Medicine. “I think it’s actually quite doable.” Kliman, who has published research on progesterone and miscarriage, is in favor of abortion rights and has made it clear that he is not advocating for widespread use of the treatment. But if one of his daughters came to see him and told him that she accidentally took mifepristone during pregnancy, he said, he would tell her to take 200 milligrams of progesterone three times a day for several days. , just long enough for the mifepristone to leave her. system: “I bet you that would work.” The protocol, however, has garnered almost no interest from the mainstream medical community, in part because the alleged audience is so small.

But while Delgado and his associates strive to legitimize the overthrow, some state lawmakers are getting ahead of them. Since 2015, lawmakers in 10 states have introduced bills requiring doctors to inform women who obtain the abortion pill that they can change their mind after taking the first dose. “These laws essentially require doctors to tell their patients about unproven treatment and essentially encourage them to participate in an unsupervised research experiment,” Grossman said. In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill in March requiring that women receiving the pill be told that mifepristone alone does not always end a pregnancy; a similar law came into effect in South Dakota last year. Arkansas requires women to be informed that “it may be possible to reverse the effects of abortion if the pregnant woman changes her mind.” A 2015 Arizona law was passed but was later revised to remove its reference to reversal. Similar bills have been debated in Colorado, California, Indiana, Idaho, North Carolina and Georgia. Americans United for Life, an influential lobby group, has indicated that its model overthrow legislation is a strategic focus for 2017.

When Marie Stettler called the reversal hotline in 2015, a nurse quickly made an appointment for him with a local doctor who would give him progesterone the next morning. On the way home from her first treatment, full of hope, she stopped and bought a bottle of prenatal vitamins. But three days later, she started to bleed profusely. The pregnancy was over. Stettler struggled with grief and guilt for months. After her due date, she attended a Christian ministry-led retreat for “postabortion” women, which included a memorial service chaired by a priest. Stettler played the piano and sang an original song she had written for the baby, which she decided to be a girl, and named Remy. “Real joy is never found in the things we love by the way,” she sang. “ But in such a pure sacrifice, we find eternal love. ”

Over time, she found a different kind of redemption. The nurse who answered the reversal hotline stayed in touch with her after her pregnancy ended, praying with her on the phone when she was feeling down. She began volunteering for the hotline, speaking to women in the same position she once held. And in March, she moved to San Diego to start working full-time as a nurse manager at Culture of Life. She sees the work she is doing now as something like an atonement. ” I knew Remy’s life had to mean something, ” she told me. God has a plan, she added, “for literally every life, living or dying in His arms.”

The anti-abortion movement has effectively promoted the idea that many women regret their abortions. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, considered a wild card on abortion issues, was eloquent on the subject in his Gonzales v. Carhart, a 2007 case that upheld the ban on “partial birth” abortion. “It seems irreproachable to conclude that some women come to regret their choice to abort the infantile life that they once created and supported,” he wrote in the opinion of the majority. “The state has an interest in such a serious choice being well informed. This assumption underlies huge swathes of contemporary abortion law: waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, and demands that doctors give women more (sometimes questionable) information about the procedure and its effects. The idea seems to be that many women do not understand what an abortion is until after they have had one.

The entire legal strategy to “protect” women seemed to be in jeopardy last year, however, when the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, overturned tough Texas clinic regulations developed under the pretext of protecting women’s health. Some legal experts predicted the ruling would force the anti-abortion movement to refocus its attention from the mother’s health and emotions to the fetus itself. But the reversal legislation suggests the anti-abortion movement isn’t giving up so quickly. In fact, the movement appears to “double the focus on women,” says Mary Ziegler, Florida State University law professor and author of the 2015 book “After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate.” Stories of individual women battling remorse remain a powerful weapon in the anti-abortion arsenal, and the abortion rights movement has often stumbled in its attempts to respond to them. ” Because there are so many stories that the pro-choice party wants to represent and has to represent, to cover its bases it seems weaker and less consistent than pro-life ‘abortion hurts women, women regret the abortion, ” ‘Madeira said. “ This cohesive message is always much stronger and more unified. ”

Promoting legislation like the recent crop of overturning bills may be its own reward, Ziegler says, even if the laws are ultimately repealed or the protocol proves ineffective. Just raising the issue of uncertainty and regret affects the reputation of the abortion pill. “You are changing the cultural norms about what people think about this type of abortion,” she says. “You can do it regardless of what the research ultimately shows. “

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