Indiana Senate panel backs ‘abortion reversal’ requirement

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A bill requiring Indiana doctors to tell women undergoing drug-induced abortions about a disputed treatment that could stop the abortion process is a step closer to approval in the Republican-dominated Legislature.

The state Senate’s health committee voted 7-4 Wednesday to advance the proposal, despite objections that it would force doctors to provide dubious information to their patients.

Supporters argue the bill ensures that women who take the first of the two drugs for a medication abortion then change their minds about ending their pregnancies have information about stopping the process by taking a different drug.

Dr. Christina Francis, a Fort Wayne physician who is board chair for the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told the Senate committee that some studies have shown the “reversal” process can be effective. She argued that it would be “cruel” to not provide the information to the patients.

“They are not told it’s 100%, they’re told that it’s about a 70% chance that they could save their child,” Francis said.

Medical groups say the abortion pill “reversal” process is not backed up by science and that there is little information about the procedure’s safety.

Dr. Caroline Rouse, a member of the obstetrics and gynecology faculty at Indiana University School of Medicine, told senators the bill would force doctors to provide “false and misleading information.”

“Patients trust me, the physician, to provide accurate information in order to help them make the best medical decision,” Rouse said. “So-called abortion reversal does not have science behind it. It is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening treatment without sound scientific evidence and counseling my patients about it is unethical.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which has successfully blocked several anti-abortion laws adopted by Indiana legislators, has said the proposal “runs afoul of the Constitution.”

Six states already have similar requirements in place, while laws in three other states — North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee — have been blocked by legal challenges, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

The Indiana House voted 67-29 last month in favor of the bill. Wednesday’s committee vote advances the bill to the full Senate, which has a strong anti-abortion majority that has supported numerous restrictions in recent years. The Senate will likely vote on the measure next week.

Medication abortions accounted for 44% of the roughly 7,600 abortions performed in Indiana during 2019, according to the state health department’s most recent statistics.