An Arizona law that would require doctors to tell falsely tell patients that medication abortions are “reversible” has temporarily been blocked. The law was passed in March; a group of Arizona healthcare providers, backed by Planned Parenthood, promptly sued. That’s because saying medication abortions are reversible is, in the words of one doctor, “tantamount to quackery.”
SB 1318, backed by a dubious anti-abortion group called the Center for Arizona Policy, would require healthcare providers to tell abortion-seeking patients that medication abortions—in which the patient takes a dose of mifepristone, and then, a day or two later, a dose of misoprostol—can be reversed. That dubious claim comes from precisely one doctor, George Delgado, who claims he’s reversed abortions with high doses of progesterone. He tested that regimen on six women, four of whom he says continued their pregnancies. The progesterone regimen hasn’t been studied otherwise.
As RH Reality Check points out, Delgado wasn’t overseen by an ethics board, there was no control group, and it’s unknown whether that progesterone regimen might cause birth defects. There’s also evidence that taking mifepristone and not following it with misoprostol isn’t very effective anyway; one study done in 1987 found that between 7 and 40% of pregnancies weren’t terminated when using mifepristone alone.
In other words, you probably can’t reverse a medication abortion, and being required to tell your patients that you can is lying. The law would also require the Arizona Department of Health Service to refer patients to “doctors” who claim to be able to reverse abortions, i.e., delivering them into the hands of quacks. Dr. Ilana Addis, the chairwoman of the Arizona section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, wrote an op-ed calling the law “junk science:”
It is blatantly wrong for the state of Arizona to force doctors to counsel their patients about voodoo medicine, and wrong for the Department of Health Services to sanction these practices by publishing this information on their website.
Facing an unwanted pregnancy is hard enough. The exceedingly rare woman who does regret her choice to terminate should not have to then be subjected to unproven doses of an unnecessary hormone and its related side effects.
Today, a judge granted the Arizona doctors’ request for a temporary injunction. The law is blocked from taking effect at least until October, when the next hearing in the case is scheduled.
Image via Getty.