Indiana Bill Promotes Misleading, Potentially Harmful ‘Abortion Reversal’
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.