Indiana GOP sends 'abortion reversal' bill back to committee

AP News
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Posted: Feb 20, 2017 6:00 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana House panel will take another look at a measure it narrowly approved last week concerning a scientifically disputed process known as abortion reversal, a rare legislative step that Democrats say reflects widespread problems with the proposal.

Republican Rep. Ron Bacon's bill would require abortion providers to give women information about potentially stopping drug-induced abortions midway through the procedure. He contends providing it could give women a chance to save their baby if they change their minds, but critics say the so-called abortion reversal procedure hasn't been sufficiently vetted.

The measure had narrowly cleared the panel in a 7-6 vote, with two Republicans joining the Democratic lawmakers in voting against it. Measures that clear committees are typically amended further on the floor of the chamber, rather than in the panel where they were first heard.

House Public Policy Committee Chairman Ben Smaltz, a Republican, said the bill is returning so lawmakers can consider amendments. The proposed changes would, among other things, clarify the time period during which advocates say the "reversal" is possible and remove a provision that requires abortion doctors to use an ultrasound to determine the age of the fetus.

"They obviously had a rough time in the Republican caucus about that bill," said Democratic Rep. Charlie Brown, who sits on the House panel. "If it's on the floor, it's going to be a long, lengthy, ugly discussion on this whole issue."

The proposal requires the State Health Department to create a form with information on the potential abortion "reversal" procedure that a woman would receive prior to her drug-induced abortion. The panel faces a deadline of Tuesday to advance the measure a second time.

An Arizona law that required doctors to inform women of the potential ability of qualified medical professionals to "reverse a medication abortion" was challenged in court and later repealed by the Legislature. At least two other states have passed similar laws.

Advocates of the approach say there has been success "reversing" the procedure when doctors administer progesterone before a woman takes the second of two medications needed to complete the drug-induced abortion. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, however, has stated that claims about "abortion reversals" aren't supported by scientific evidence.

Bacon and other supporters acknowledge that the reversal is not a guarantee but think it should be included as part of a woman's informed consent.

"There's no perfect science," Bacon said after his first bill hearing earlier this month. "To say this is perfect — no, we never said that. We said that we have a chance."

Opponents, meanwhile, suggest informing a patient about an unproven treatment is irresponsible.

Bacon's proposal is among the only proposed abortion measures to be considered in Indiana this session, though a separate Senate bill is scheduled for its first hearing Wednesday.