An Indiana House committee has narrowly approved legislation requiring providers to tell women about so-called “abortion reversal.” Women seeking to reverse a chemical abortion may seek injections of progesterone, a hormone that supports a number of chemical changes during the first trimester of pregnancy. The approval of the bill moves it one step closer to becoming law.
The procedure, which has no scientific support and which may be dangerous, is based on the faulty premise that many women regret their abortions. Abortion is inherently irreversible, so the bill marks a strange turn in an increasingly aggressive push to undermine reproductive choice.
Bizarre Indiana ‘Abortion Reversal’ Bill
The bill, which stoked heated debates in an House committee meeting, requires medical providers to tell women about medications that could reverse drug-induced abortions. The idea is that women may immediately regret their abortions and want a way out.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says there’s no science supporting abortion reversal. There have been less than 10 cases of claimed abortion reversal, and each case raises more questions than it answers. It may be that women seeking abortion reversal simply had failed abortions—not successfully reversed terminations.
The medications used to “reverse” such an abortion may cause serious side effects. Because abortion reversal is not an approved medical treatment, women may go to unethical clinics or buy progesterone injections online.
Even Republican lawmakers admit that the science they lean on is dicey at best. Two Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the bill, citing health and ethical concerns.
Women, Abortion, and Regret
In recent years, anti-choice activists have taken a new tack: rather than shaming women, they claim they’re trying to help them. Of course, those offers of help end as soon as the fetus becomes a baby, since anti-choice activists are generally the same people who oppose welfare, food stamps, a minimum wage hike, paid maternity leave, and other measures that could reduce the abortion rate. But when women are still pregnant with the babies Republican lawmakers will one day care nothing for, anti-choice zealots say they’re trying to help women avoid a lifetime of regret.
There’s no denying that a small number of women regret their abortions. However, research shows that the mental health effects of abortion are almost universally positive. Post-abortion syndrome—a type of PTSD that supposedly affects large numbers of women who have abortions—is a myth of the anti-choice movement.
We do know one way that abortion affects women’s mental health: women who receive abortions tend to report improvements in mental health. That makes sense, since having an unwanted child can lead to poverty, thwarted careers, and a wide range of health issues.
One ongoing study of women denied abortions has found that denying abortions can spur long-lasting psychological harm. Women who seek, but are denied, abortions are more likely to experience depression anxiety, to live in poverty, to remain in abusive relationships, and to suffer poor pregnancy outcomes.
Republican leaders seem fine with this. Their concern has never been about women seeking abortions. Their only interest appears to be punishing women with pregnancies—never mind the consequences those pregnancies yield for the woman or her child.
Indiana has passed a number of controversial abortion regulations in recent years. Many were spearheaded by then-Governor and Now-Vice President Mike Pence. A 2016 law requiring women to bury the remains of aborted and miscarried fetuses sparked national outrage. The Periods for Pence Campaign responded to the legislation by encouraging women to call Governor Pence to report details of their periods and reproductive efforts.
President Trump is a direct threat to abortion rights, particularly if he gets more than one Supreme Court nominee. An end to Roe vs. Wade would send abortion back to the states. Women’s access to abortions would then depend on geography. So will abortion make it to the Supreme Court? And will the wrong case end abortion as a Constitutional right?
For that to happen, only two things must occur:
- A lawsuit about an abortion regulations under Roe must wind its way to the Supreme Court
- A majority of the Court must vote against abortion rights. This probably wouldn’t happen unless Trump nominated a second Supreme Court justice.
A number of state level abortion restrictions may soon give rise to lawsuits. In 2016 alone, 19 states enacted 60 new abortion restrictions. Here are some of the most disturbing.
A new law in Arkansas permits husbands to sue their wives to stop abortion. With no exception for rape, the law fundamentally undermines the right to privacy that underpins Roe vs. Wade.
Second Trimester Abortion Bans
Roe vs. Wade preserves the right to abortion up to the point of viability. Lawmakers in numerous states want to prohibit the procedure well before viability. Ohio recently enacted legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks. A number of states have recently banned dilation and evacuation (D&E), the safest and most popular second trimester abortion option. The Pennsylvania Senate just passed legislation banning the procedure. If the measure meets the approval of the House and governor, it could become law.
So-called personhood amendments define fetuses—and occasionally even fertilized eggs—as human beings. This enshrines for them the same rights that living, breathing women posses. And in the case of a woman seeking an abortion, a fertilized egg has the right to remain in the woman’s body, no matter how she feels about it, and no matter how it got there.
Personhood amendments almost never contain exceptions for rape or the life of the mother. In Wisconsin, anti-choice activists argued that the life of the mother is a “loophole” used to unfairly seek abortions.
A related group of laws, fetal heartbeat laws, prohibit abortion as soon as a fetus has a heartbeat—usually around six weeks’ gestation. One such law passed the Ohio legislature last year, but Governor John Kasich vetoed it.
Burying Fetal Remains
In their quest to penalize women, a number of states now require them to bury all fetal remains, including those from miscarriages. These laws are largely nonsensical, since abortion rarely produces a “body,” and miscarriages are often indistinguishable from menstrual periods.
Indiana’s fetal burial law sparked a national backlash in the form of “Periods for Pence.” Now Texas has a similar rule. Women’s groups already plan to sue—a decision that could launch the law on a journey toward the Supreme Court.
What Happens Now?
These laws present choice advocates with an impossible conundrum. They can let the law stand, thereby depriving women of abortion rights but preventing the case from going to the Supreme Court. Or they can fight back, risking nationwide abortion rights in the process.
Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, has never ruled on abortion. So what does the nominee believe about choice? He ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in the landmark decision about access to contraceptives. His other rulings point to a staunchly conservative judge. Learn more with our Daily Kos post.
President Trump, apparently unmoved by millions of women protesting for reproductive rights, reinstated the global gag rule. The so-called Mexico City Policy bans organizations that receive US funding from discussing abortion. Research suggests the policy increases the abortion rate. This makes it just one in a series of ineffective and harmful Trump policies. Learn more about the rule change with our Daily Kos article.
Under President Trump, Republicans will likely get at least two Supreme Court nominees. States across the country have reacted with more abortion restrictions. From incarcerated women denied abortions to laws completely banning the procedure, restrictive legislation is increasing. If the right case goes before the Supreme Court, abortion rights could end. Even if Roe vs. Wade survives, fewer abortion rights under President Trump are nearly inevitable. To learn more, read our Daily Kos blog for more details.
Doctors cannot be compelled to perform abortions. But a federal judge has ruled that this religious protection is insufficient. A Texas district judge has ruled that doctors can refuse to treat women who have had abortions and people who identify as transgender. Read our Daily Kos post on the ruling here.
Yet another study has demonstrated that abortion doesn’t harm women’s mental health. Women who can’t get abortions, however, do suffer mental health issues. State legislatures continue to claim otherwise. Some have even forced doctors to lie to women about abortion’s effects. To learn about the study, read our Daily Kos post here.
Republicans are already attacking abortion rights, and Donald Trump hasn’t even taken office. Doomsday scenarios serve no one. But to fight back against Donald Trump, it’s important to know what’s at stake. Here’s what you need to know about new state-level anti-choice measures.
A Trump presidency is looking more and more like a depressing reality, in spite of fantasies of faithless electors or successful recounts. Reproductive rights activists are right to worry about the looming specter of an anti-choice authoritarian president. But the battle isn’t over yet. Though two Supreme Court nominees could overturn Roe vs. Wade, choice activists still have a number of options for fighting back right now. The time to take action is today, since choice is in question tomorrow. Learn more about what you can do to help by hopping over to our Daily Kos posting here.
Donald Trump’s election send progressives across the country into a state of shock. A Trump presidency is more than just a devastating loss. It puts lives in danger. Research shows that his win is already undermining the national mental health. And because Trump and his ilk care little for public health, they’ll likely gut mental health benefits, further exacerbating the problem. Read more here.