There is no legitimate research that shows a medication abortion can be reversed, but that won't stop conservative lawmakers from pushing the harmful lie.
In a year where over five dozen new anti-abortion laws have been signed, and hundreds more are in the pipeline, one of Louisiana's latest efforts isn't just another restriction — it's actively dangerous.
Earlier this month, the state passed a trio of bills designed to limit access to abortion, one of with is a so-called "abortion pill reversal" bill. The new law would require abortion providers to tell their patients that a medication abortion can be reversed.
Having a medication abortion typically involves a two-drug regimen that is highly safe. Anti-abortion activists have long insisted that this process can be stopped by either not taking the second pill or taking a high dose of progesterone.
Republican state Rep. Beryl Amedee, who sponsored the bill, said that it "saves the life of the baby in many cases," touting "2,000 babies saved nationwide and at least eight so far in Louisiana." But no legitimate medical research shows that such a method reverses a medical abortion, and legislators in Louisiana know it.
Back in 2016, Louisiana legislators asked the state department of health to study abortion reversal and found there was "insufficient evidence to suggest there is a sound method to reverse a medication abortion." Instead, a unanimous panel of experts expressed concern about the experimental nature of the progesterone treatment.
Those experts were also concerned about the one "study" that proponents of the reversal process tout. In 2012, George Delgado, an anti-abortion doctor, published a report detailing the experience of six women who took a dose of mifepristone and then got a high-dose injection of progesterone. He said that four women carried their pregnancies to term.
There was no control group, and because of that, as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists pointed out, there's no scientific evidence that progesterone is what led to the pregnancies continuing.
On the other hand, actual medical research into the process has shown that it's so risky that doctors had to discontinue the only legitimate study nearly immediately. Three of the 12 women in the study were rushed to the hospital with severe vaginal bleeding after trying the "reversal" process.
But Amedee's bill requires providers to give patients a notice that tells them they may be able to "avoid, cease, or reverse" a medication abortion if the second pill is not taken.
Louisiana's eagerness to tout such a dangerous procedure is still more evidence that people in the anti-abortion movement are cavalier about women's health. They're not alone — at least 13 states have laws on "abortion pill reversal," and with the onslaught of anti-abortion bills this year, there will likely be more by the end of 2021.