U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), alongside Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN), has introduced legislation to safeguard medication abortion in states, like Colorado, where abortion remains legal.
The Protecting Access to Medication Abortion Act would allow patients to continue to access medication via telehealth and allow pharmacies to continue to dispense and mail the medication to patients. The bill would also codify the current mifepristone FDA Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy to ensure access for patients. Medication abortions consist of two medications, mifepristone, which blocks the body’s production of progesterone, stopping the pregnancy from progressing, and misoprostol, which causes the uterus to expel the aborted material.
Hickenlooper’s legislation comes as a Trump-appointed judge is set to rule on Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a lawsuit brought by the Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom that would ban mifepristone. Jezebel has reported that abortion providers are preparing to offer misoprostol-only abortions should the mifepristone ban go into effect.
“Mifepristone is safe, trusted medication that can be prescribed over a telehealth visit,” said Hickenlooper in a news release. “We need to protect this access to reproductive rights so women get the care they need.”
Colorado’s Reproductive Health Equity Act has enshrined the right to an abortion under Colorado law, but anti-abortion advocates in the state continue to push for measures to restrict abortion access, such as the recent unsuccessful attempt at a municipal abortion ban in Pueblo.
While Democratic legislators in Colorado will introduce legislation this session to further protect abortion providers and patients and regulate the deceptive practices of anti-abortion centers, Republicans are continuing to push anti-abortion legislation.
Rep. Scott Bottoms (R-CO Springs) has introduced a bill titled “Provide Information On Abortion Pill Reversal” which would require a physician or other qualified medical professional to provide state-prepared information concerning abortion pill reversal, including a telephone number and website address where a pregnant person can seek resources to obtain abortion pill reversal, to any person seeking an abortion through the use of an abortion-inducing drug.
Abortion pill reversal is commonly advertised at anti-abortion centers. The abortion pill reversal is essentially doses of progesterone to counteract the effects of mifepristone. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) notes, “Claims regarding abortion ‘reversal’ treatment are not based on science and do not meet clinical standards.” According to ACOG, “A 2012 case series reported on six women who took mifepristone and were then administered varying progesterone doses. Four continued their pregnancies. This is not scientific evidence that progesterone resulted in the continuation of those pregnancies,” and “A 2020 study intending to evaluate medication abortion reversal in a controlled, institutional review board-approved setting was ended early due to safety concerns among the participants.”
ACOG also notes, “Politicians should never mandate treatments or require that physicians tell patients inaccurate information. This is an interference in the patient-clinical relationship and contradicts a fundamental principle of medical ethics. Abortion is an essential part of comprehensive medical care, and a patient’s decision to end a pregnancy following appropriate consultation with their trusted medical professional should be treated with respect.”
Rep. Stephanie Luck (R-Penrose) has introduced legislation titled, “Painkiller Administration Prior To Abortion.” Her bill would require a health-care provider who performs an abortion of an fetus that is 20-weeks gestational age or more to administer a painkiller to the fetus prior to the abortion. Like Bottoms’ legislation, Luck’s is not backed by medical science.
A 2005 review of available evidence was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and their report concluded, “Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.” The third trimester begins at 27 to 28 weeks from conception.
The argument underpinning Luck’s legislation is also used by anti-abortion advocates to push for abortion bans after 20 weeks, despite the fact that the vast majority of abortions occur before the 20-week mark. According to a 2018 Congressional Research Service report, “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the 652,639 abortions reported to the agency in 2014, 91.5% were performed at or under 13 weeks’ gestation, 7.2% were performed between 14 and 20 weeks’ gestation, and 1.3% were performed at or over 21 weeks’ gestation.”
Luck has been a consistent anti-abortion voice in the legislature. In 2022 she introduced legislation to collect additional information on abortions in Colorado, which opponents said raised concerns about the potential use of the information from patients. Luck is also on the board of directors of Forging Pueblo, the Christian dominionist group that organized opposition to Pueblo’s recently opened CARE [Clinics for Abortion and Reproductive Excellence] clinic.