Physicians decry NC 'abortion reversal' bill

A bill in the state House that would regulate medical abortions suggests a process that not all doctors agree should be used.

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Laura Leslie
RALEIGH, N.C. — A bill in the state House that would regulate medical abortions suggests a process that not all doctors agree should be used.
House Bill 62 would require doctors to tell women who choose what's known as a medical or drug-induced abortion that they can reverse the procedure. Both the American Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say there's no scientific evidence that trying to do so would be safe or effective.

So-called "abortion reversal" laws are on the books in Arkansas and South Dakota, despite testimony from medical experts that they're scientifically flawed. A similar law enacted in Arizona was blocked by the courts and eventually repealed.

North Carolina's legislation, which is modeled after some of those other laws, would require doctors to inform patients that, if they change their minds after taking the first of two drugs, they can reverse the abortion by not taking the second drug and getting a shot of hormones. It would also require women to return to the doctor's office and undergo a second exam before being given the second drug.

Anti-abortion groups claim that hundreds of "reversals" have resulted in healthy children, but there's no body of peer-reviewed research to back that up.

Dr. Matthew Zerden, the associate medical director at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said politicians shouldn't be telling doctors to recommend unproven procedures.

"We strive to provide medically accurate information to our patients. That's how we provide care. So, if we are forced to provide medically inaccurate information, inserted by politicians and driven by a political agenda, that hurts women," Zerden said.

Several sponsors of the bill declined to comment Friday. One of the sponsors, Rep. Beverly Boswell, R-Dare, has also filed a bill that would outlaw abortion entirely in the state.

Zerden said about a quarter of all abortions are drug-induced, and they can be performed only in the first 10 weeks of a pregnancy.

"It’s a very safe and effective way," he said. "We support them having that choice. Parts of this bill would take away from that choice by creating additional obstacles, perhaps additional visits."

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