U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) has introduced a bill that would require abortion providers to inform their patients about a dubious and risky method for reversing an abortion in-progress.
The legislation, called the Second Chance at Life Act, applies specifically to medication abortion, which is a safe and common abortion method used for those who are fewer than 10 weeks pregnant. It involves taking one pill, called mifepristone, followed by a second pill, misoprostol.
The “abortion reversal” method, which is frequently promoted by the anti-abortion movement as hope for those who change their minds midway through their abortion, involves not taking the second pill, and instead administering oral or injected doses of the hormone progesterone to the patient over the course of several days.
Not only has this abortion reversal treatment not been proven to work, but researchers were forced to halt a 2019 study that aimed to test the safety and efficacy of the treatment after some of the study’s participants were sent to the hospital for dangerous hemorrhaging.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has warned that “claims regarding abortion ‘reversal’ treatment are not based on science and do not meet clinical standards” and that studies used by the anti-abortion movement to bolster these claims aren’t scientifically or ethically sound.
Still, lawmakers like Lamborn promote the treatment as a tool for stopping abortion, and it is offered at many anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers.
“The Second Chance at Life Act provides hope for babies whose mothers deserve the opportunity to make a fully informed decision on any abortion,” Lamborn said in a press release. “My legislation will give opportunities for life for thousands more unborn children. I call on Speaker Pelosi to bring this legislation to the floor to allow pregnant mothers to be fully informed before making the decision to have a life-ending abortion.”
The bill also requires that this information be given to the patient 24 hours prior to the abortion, meaning that the patient would be required to make multiple trips to the health center where the pill is administered, presenting extra logistical barriers to care.
Several states have laws that force providers to tell patients about abortion pill reversal, like the federal legislation introduced by Lamborn. Abortion foes frame such laws as providing counseling and complete information for patients to make informed choices, similar to anti-abortion laws that require doctors to recite scientifically inaccurate information about fetal pain and physical and psychological side effects of abortion.
These policies also help promote the falsehood that people often change their minds about abortion or later come to regret their decision. While feelings about abortion can be complicated and vary from person to person, study after study has shown that it is uncommon for people who have gotten an abortion to regret it following the procedure or later in their lives.
Lamborn’s bill is highly unlikely to advance given the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.