Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Lawmakers Consider Adding Abortion-reversal Pill To State's Informed-consent Law

By Brigid Curtis Ayer, Statehouse Correspondent For Indiana's Catholic Newspapers

    INDIANAPOLIS—An Indiana House committee has heard a bill to expand state laws regarding informed consent for abortion to include information on nonsurgical, chemical abortion reversal. The Indiana Catholic Conference supports the measure.

    House Bill 1128, authored by Rep. Ron Bacon, R-Chandler, would require the Indiana Department of Health to develop a form that provides women information about an abortion-pill-reversal procedure. The form would have to list websites and telephone numbers that could provide more information on the potential reversal, as well as the names of local medical professionals who could aid in the procedure.

    The measure was heard on Feb. 8 before the House Public Policy Committee, and committee chairman Rep. Benjamin Smaltz, R-Auburn, said he would hold the bill to give panel members an opportunity to get their pending questions answered.

    Glenn Tebbe, executive director for the Indiana Catholic Conference, testified in support of the bill, saying the measure would strengthen Indiana’s informed-consent statute by ensuring that the mother is fully informed of the risks as well as options should she wish to reconsider her decision. “It gives the mother an opportunity to save her child,” said Tebbe.

    Bacon, who works as a respiratory therapist, said he learned about abortion-pill reversal for chemical abortion when he met Christina Francis, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Fort Wayne, while attending a medical seminar. Bacon said, “If a woman changes her mind, there is a chance to reverse it.”

    A medical or chemical abortion is a non-surgical, drug-induced form of abortion with a two-step process. The expectant mother takes pills containing Mifepristone (RU-486), and later takes Misoprostol (or Cytotec) to end the life of the baby. Mifepristone acts as a progesterone blocker, which causes a miscarriage, and Misoprostol causes the woman to have contractions to expel the baby. To reverse a chemical abortion, a woman is given progesterone to counteract the Mifepristone. Current abortion-pill reversal is successful only after Mifepristone is taken and before Misoprostol is taken.

    Testifying in support of the bill, Ashley Sams of Indianapolis choked back tears and stopped several times to compose herself. Shortly after taking the first round of abortion pills, Sams felt guilt and panic. Sams said she knew she made the “wrong choice.” Immediately she began desperately surfing the web for a support group to help with her emotional breakdown, and stumbled across the abortion-reversal pill.

    Sams said, “I found reversal help by accident. That information should be provided to everyone who takes the abortion pill because we’re the ones (who) have to live with the consequences of our actions.” Sams successfully reversed her abortion using the APR method and is the mother of a healthy, 17-month-old boy.

    Patricia Stauffer, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, testified in opposition to the bill saying the bill was unnecessary and it only “seeks to stigmatize a woman seeking abortion.”  

    Katherine McHugh, a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist in Indianapolis with Indiana University Health, testified in opposition to the bill saying she wanted to make a “simple point.” She said, “This is not vetted science, and it’s not good medicine.” McHugh added, “This is not good science, and it’s not good for my patients.”

    Testifying in support of HS 1128, Christina Francis, a Ft. Wayne obstetrician and gynecologist, and president for the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said that giving a large dose of progesterone can allow a woman who has initiated the first round of progesterone blockers to induce an abortion reversal. She said the use of progesterone to prevent miscarriage is safe and well-documented. The first recorded successful abortion-pill reversal was documented in 2006. The reversal procedure is 70 percent successful and does not increase the incidence of birth defects. Francis said the more women are aware of this option, the more success stories there will be.

    Casey Reising, who described herself as a “womb-to-tomb” family-practice physician of Magnificat Family Medicine in Indianapolis, testified in support of the bill. Reisling said she is the only full-time physician trained in Natural Procreative Technology in Indianapolis, and she has treated three patients with APR. Natural Procreative Technology, also called NaProTECHNOLOGY, is a new women's-health science that monitors and maintains a woman's reproductive health and gynecological health. Reising said she is one of many NaPro-trained physicians who assist patients who call into the APR-reversal hotline. Reising treated Sams’ when she called the hotline to reverse her abortion.

    The Abortion Reversal Pill Network reports that there have been 300 successful births after using the reversal procedure. These documented abortion-pill-reversal cases are expected to be published in a medical journal in the near future by George Delgado, a family practice physician in San Diego who also serves as medical director for the Culture of Life Family Services.

    Tebbe said he expects the bill to pass the House panel and move the House floor for approval by the end of February.