Should women know that it’s possible to reverse the effects of a medication abortion? That was the question facing the Iowa House Human Resources committee on Tuesday afternoon.
Rep. Shannon Lundgren (R-Peosta), who managed the bill, said the bill requires medication abortion providers to inform women of the medical risks and the potential to reverse the abortion. It also requires the Iowa Department of Public Health to post information online to help women find information on the availability to reverse the effects of medication abortion.
While there hasn’t been an official clinical study done, Lundgren talked about a study in California in which 12 people participated. Of the 12, three went to the Emergency Room, but two were taking a placebo. One was on Progesterone to reverse the medication abortion. Six fetal heartbeats were detected and two surgical abortions were performed after that point.
Rep. Karin Derry (D-Johnston) said the Progesterone does not meet scientific standards.
“This bill is based on junk science,” she said.
Rep. Kristin Sunde (D-West Des Moines) referred to the study Lundgren talked about. Sunde said the legislators are taking it too fast.
“If among 12 women, three had to be taken to the ER because of hemorrhaging, I think clearly that points to us needing more information before we can require doctors to tell patients that something might happen or might not happen,” she said. “It’s just not studied enough.”
Rep. Heather Matson (D-Ankeny) expressed concern over the bill’s impact on Iowa’s ability to recruit OB/GYNs to the state if lawmakers are going to “force” them to give information they know to be “experimental.”
“Well Rep. Matson, I think that you’re making an assumption that every physician or every OG/GYN believes what you’re stating ACOG believes and I disagree with that,” Lundgren said. “I don’t think we’ll have an issue.”
Rep. Ross Wilburn (D-Ames) asked Lundgren about the legislative intent of the bill.
“To ensure doctors are giving the risks to patients in regards to medication abortion as well as informing patients of the opportunity to reverse that abortion,” she said.
Rep. Lindsay James (D-Dubuque) mentioned the Turnaway Study, which she said is the largest and longest study to date that examines a woman’s experience with abortion.
“Data shows that women feel relief, not regret,” James said. “Data shows that 95 percent of women said abortion was the right decision for them. Data shows that women who received a wanted abortion were more likely to have a positive outlook on the future within one year.”
She said only .004 percent of women did not follow through with the second phase of the procedure. James said on average a woman makes a decision on an abortion 10 days after finding out she’s pregnant.
“Women take seriously their reproductive health,” she said.
Rep. Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines) discussed all the requirements doctors have when it comes to talking with patients before performing an abortion.
“They have to give materials about the benefit of adoption to society, which I think is questionable,” Anderson said. “It might be good for a couple or a family, I’m not sure it’s a social benefit above or beyond that.”
Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Ames) spoke against the bill as well.
“There is no such thing as an abortion reversal,” she said. “Abortion reversal is a term that people who are opposed to abortion are using. It’s a term that puts women at great danger and also treats women as a piece of an experiment.”
Lundgren returned to the study she mentioned previously. She noted of the 12 women, three went to the Emergency Room. Two of them were taking the placebo. Six of the 12 women went to a physician who was able to detect a fetal heartbeat.
“Give women the choice,” Lundgren said. “That’s what we’re doing. We’re giving them the choice. If they want to take the risks, should there be a risk to take the abortion reversal pill to save their child, then they should have that choice. It’s extremely disappointing to me that we don’t want them to have information.”
The bill passed on an 11-10 vote.