‘Abortion reversal’ bill unlikely to become law during Statehouse session

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INDIANAPOLIS — Two key Indiana lawmakers said they do not intend to take action on legislation addressing so-called abortion reversal procedures, likely dooming its chances of becoming law this session.

The proposal by Republican Rep. Ron Bacon would mandate that abortion providers give women considering a drug-induced abortion a form containing information on potentially stopping their procedure after taking the first of two drugs, including a disclaimer that no medical studies confirm it is possible.

The bill cleared the House last month after heated debate and was sent to the Senate Judiciary committee, but Chairman Rodric Bray said Monday that he doesn’t have time to hear the bill before lawmakers adjourn.

“I’m happy to have that conversation — to see whether it’s good policy or not — we just ran out of time,” the Martinsville Republican said, adding that the committee’s final hearing is this week and he was unable to get Bacon’s measure on the agenda.

House Public Policy committee Chairman Ben Smaltz, meanwhile, said he won’t include the ‘abortion reversal’ provision in another abortion measure before his committee.

The Auburn Republican said he plans to incorporate other provisions of Bacon’s measure into a separate bill, but not the informed consent requirement on the ‘reversal’ procedure.

“That whole section has been omitted,” he said. “I’m going through the merge markup right now, just to make sure.”

Critics of the bill, including some anti-abortion Republican women, argued that provision was irresponsible and far-reaching, as it promoted a procedure that hasn’t been scientifically proven to work.

Claims about its potential stem from research done by Dr. George Delgado in San Diego, California. A paper he published in 2012 describes four of six women who had healthy babies after taking the first medication in a two-part medical abortion, when they received the hormone progesterone.

Since then, Delgado says several hundred other women have received the treatment with a 60 to 70 percent success rate.

The study is not considered high-quality research because it is small and has no comparison group.

For women who change their minds after taking the first drug, doing nothing and waiting to see what happens may be just as effective as progesterone shots, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“At this point, the only certainty is confusion,” Republican Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer said in February when the House considered the bill. “I do not believe forcing medical professionals to provide medical advice on something that is not proven and incomplete is by any means the right thing to do.”

Utah’s governor signed a bill on the ‘abortion reversal’ last week, joining Arkansas and South Dakota. A similar law in Arizona was challenged in court and later repealed.

Bills were also proposed in North Carolina and Colorado this year, though a committee in the Democratic-led House killed the Colorado bill.

In Indiana, supporters contended that the proposal would give women a chance to save their baby if they changed their mind.

Though Bacon, a Republican from Chandler, said he is “disappointed” about the bill’s likely end this session, he said he’s done what he set out to do: draw attention to the procedure and its potential to save a baby.

“I knew it’d be a tough fight,” he said. “There are always going to be issues on (abortion) — not everybody agrees with you.”