Abortion 'Reversal' Nonsense Spreads to South Dakota

Bill would require women prescribed abortion drugs to be told they can "reverse" the procedure after taking the first in a two-pill regimen.


South Dakota legislators plan to push four new abortion-related measures this season, including a 20-week abortion ban and a requirement that women undergoing medical abortion—a process that involves taking one pill (mifepristone) followed by a second pill (misoprostol) several days later—that they can "reverse" the abortion process if they act before taking the second drug. "We want them to know that if they change their mind after taking the first pill there can be some recourse to that," Rep. Fred Deutsch (R-Florence) told the Argus Leader.  

Last March, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a similar measure into law in Arizona. As I noted at the time

The controversial "reversal" contention is based on work from one anti-abortion physician-activist, George Delgado, who says he's been able to reverse mifepristone's effects with high doses of the hormone progesterone. No clinical trials evaluating this process exist. The only case studies of the process come from Delgado, who says four of the six women he's tried it on wound up carrying their pregnancies to term—a rate similar to that for women who take mifepristone but skip the second abortion pill (no progesterone needed). 

Doctors and medical groups say that using progesterone to "reverse" mifepristone's effects could come with mild to severe side effects for women and open physicians up to legal liability. It may also run afoul of the First Amendment by compelling doctors to make statements that neither they nor the medical establishment view as sound.

In June, the Center for Reproductive Rights, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, challenged Arizona's abortion reversal law in federal court, arguing that it violates patients' right to an abortion and doctors' free-speech rights. The court temporarily blocked the requirement as the case proceeds.