Health Care

Federal judge temporarily blocks Indiana abortion ‘reversal’ law

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A federal judge Wednesday temporarily blocked Indiana’s controversial law that would have required health care providers to share information with their patients about “reversing” a medication-induced abortion, a disputed claim that is not backed by science.

The ruling came just one day before the law was set to take effect. The bill, which required providers to recite specific language to women seeking a medication abortion, was passed by the GOP-controlled legislature earlier this year, and Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed it into law in April.

U.S. District Court Judge James Patrick Hanlon, an appointee of former President Trump, ruled that the abortion-rights groups challenging the law had “a reasonable likelihood of success” on their claim that it violates the free speech rights of abortion providers.

Hanlon found the state was not able to prove the effectiveness of abortion “reversal.” 

“While the State may require abortion providers to give a woman seeking an abortion certain types of information as part of the informed-consent process, that information must, at a minimum, be truthful and not misleading,” Hanlon wrote.

“Plaintiffs have shown a reasonable likelihood of being able to show that the Required Disclosure is not,” he added.

Medication abortion is the use of drugs, rather than surgery, to end a pregnancy. The regimen, which is evidence-based, includes a combination of two drugs — mifepristone, taken first, and misoprostol, taken at a later point. Currently, medication abortion is provided up to 10 weeks’ gestation.

GOP supporters said the requirement would ensure that a woman knows she has the option to halt a medication-induced abortion if she changes her mind after taking mifepristone, and takes a heavy dose of progesterone to counteract it.

But Hanlon wrote that Indiana has plenty of other ways to provide women with the same information, rather than forcing doctors to tell them.

For instance, the state could put information about abortion pill reversal on the Indiana Department of Health’s website, since abortion providers are already required to inform women about that website. The state could also directly inform women about a 24/7 “abortion reversal” hotline, which is instead referenced in the disputed language forced on providers. 

The lawsuit was filed by groups including Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and health providers. 

They argued the law would confuse patients, who may choose to end a pregnancy based on the mistaken belief that its effects can later be undone if they do not take the second drug. They also argued it would force medical providers to provide dangerous and unethical information.

The lawsuit claims the disclosure requirement wrongly singles out doctors providing abortion drugs and their patients. 

Professional groups like the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists maintain the abortion pill “reversal” process is not supported by science and that there is little information about its safety. 

Similar laws in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee have been blocked by legal challenges. But six states — Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Dakota and Utah — have abortion “reversal” disclosure laws in place, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. 

Tags Abortion abortion restrictions abortion rights ACLU Donald Trump Guttmacher Institute Human reproduction Medical abortion Planned Parenthood

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