Tennessee lawmakers advance abortion ‘reversal’ bill

Published 8:46 am Monday, March 16, 2020


Associated Press

NASHVILLE (AP) — Doctors who fail to inform women that drug-induced abortions may be halted halfway could face felony charges under a bill advancing in Tennessee.

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Medical groups say the claim isn’t backed up by science and there is little information about the reversal procedure’s safety.

The measure advanced out of the House Health Committee on Tuesday. It now moves to the full House chamber and must also clear the Senate.

However, in the GOP-dominant Statehouse, the bill is likely to be approved by Republicans supportive of abortion restrictions. Gov. Bill Lee has also come out in support of anti-abortion measures, backing his own sweeping restrictions during this year’s legislative session.

Six states already require doctors to tell women that it may be possible to reverse a medication abortion: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah. In two other states, Oklahoma and North Dakota, these so-called “abortion reversal” laws are blocked or blocked by legal challenges.

Tennessee’s version mimics similar language adopted in these states, requiring that women be told “it may be possible to reverse the effects of the abortion if the pregnant woman changes her mind, but that time is of the essence.”

Under Tennessee’s version, abortion providers would face a $10,000 civil penalty and a felony charge for not informing women by telephone or in person that mifepristone — the drug that begins a medication abortion — does not always end a pregnancy if taken alone.

It also dictates that signs echoing similar claims must also be posted in all patient waiting areas if the provider performs more than 50 abortions in a year.

In the United States, medical abortion involves taking two drugs. The first — mifepristone — thins the lining of the uterus and loosens the connection between the embryo and the uterine lining. The second — misoprostol — softens and opens the cervix and causes contractions to push out the pregnancy.

The second drug is taken at home hours to days after the first drug.

Women rarely change their minds before completing the treatment. Doctors are required to report such information to the manufacturer of mifepristone.

The reversal procedure involves shots of the hormone progesterone given if a woman changes her mind after the first step of a medical abortion.