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Opponents Of Abortion Reversal Bill Voice Concerns To Lawmakers

Opponents of abortion pill reversal bill gather in front of the  Statehouse.
Jo Ingles
Ohio Public Radio
Opponents of abortion pill reversal bill gather in front of the Statehouse in May 2019.

A bill in the Ohio Senate would require doctors to give women who receive medication abortions information on a controversial reversal procedure. Opponents of the legislation got their chance to speak out to an Ohio Senate committee Tuesday.

This bill (SB 155) requires doctors to tell women getting a medication induced abortion that it can possibly be reversed after taking the first of two pills. Backers of the bill cited a controversial study that they say showed 68% of pregnancies were continued after the so-called reversal.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists calls the procedure “junk science.” Jaime Miracle with Naral Pro-Choice Ohio calls this bill a bad idea.

“This legislative body should not be in the practice of forcing medical providers to break their ethical guidelines by requiring them to give, at best, misleading and, at worst, potentially harmful about the pseudoscience claim that abortion can be reversed," Miracle said.

Jessica Cunningham, of Cincinnati, said she thinks this bill could mislead women into abortion by making them think it's not permanent. She explained she chose to continue her unplanned pregnancy. But she said she remembers how conflicted and confused some women feel when they are making decisions in situations like hers.

"I believe that a woman who is conflicted may feel more inclined to take the abortion pill, based upon the false assumption that it can be reversed," Cunningham said.

Republican Senator Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) told Cunningham she has the same concern. But Roegner says she supported the bill because she thinks it still has some good points.

Reverand Terry Williams with the United Church of Christ said he thinks the bill raises serious ethical questions because the abortion reversal process could be harmful to women. He said lawmakers would be wise to stay out of making medical decisions right now.

Sen. Roegner asked Williams when he believes life begins. He explained the answer is complicated and said he would be happy to discuss that ethical question with her

Opponents also testified there are legal concerns with this bill. Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio, warned lawmakers this bill threatens a woman's constitutional right to an abortion by threatening doctors who provide them. And he said the legislation, if passed, would likely end up in court.

"Because almost always, these cases are appealed on up the line, you get into legal fees that are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes over a million dollars," Daniel said.

A handful of states have passed similar laws. Two have been blocked by courts and others are being challenged.

"As many rooms as I have been called into with patients who have asked me to make difficult ethical decisions, they have never once asked for a legislator," Williams said.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.