The Journal Gazette
Friday, February 26, 2021 1:00 am

'Abortion reversal' measure cruelly oppressive

Dr. Caitlin Bernard

There are at least two sides to almost every issue in American life, and freely debating one another is what makes our country so special.

But there are not two sides to the insidious and fictional concept of “abortion reversal.”

Because this fraudulent concept has been proven dangerous, it should not come anywhere near the floor of the General Assembly. Giving any attention to this unproven and unethical idea is a disservice to the health and well-being of the people of Indiana.

One group of doctors said it best: “Facts are important: Medication abortion 'reversal' is not supported by science.”

I cannot say more emphatically that allowing House Bill 1577 to advance will be to the absolute detriment of health care in Indiana.

While abortion is an incredibly safe medical procedure, it is fundamentally unsafe for lawmakers to push false claims not based in medical or scientific evidence – which is exactly what is happening with this omnibus abortion bill and its ignorant laundry list of requirements that would be placed on providers.

As an OB-GYN living and practicing in Indiana, I was sorry to see HB 1577 recently passed out of the House Public Health Committee earlier.

This destructive and likely illegal bill would force medical professionals to lie to their patients and to dangerously complicate pregnancies by requiring providers, unsolicited, to fraudulently offer an option of “abortion reversal” to patients who opt for a medication abortion. This fictitious proposal would be a nightmare for health care providers and our patients. Added to the bill are more ill-advised provisions to restrict telemedicine, which is especially egregious during the pandemic.

Let's also be clear about who is harmed the most. People with means will always be able to access the care they need, including abortion. It is people of low income, who as a result of generations of racist public policies are more likely to be Black women, who are more harmed by restrictions to abortion care.

This harmful bill also creates additional barriers for minors seeking abortion care by inexplicably requiring a parental consent form to be notarized.

Indiana already requires parental consent, a process opposed by leading health professional associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics. HB 1577 would require parents to prove their identity not just to providers, but also to a notary – a practice not required for any other medical procedure and one which violates the confidentiality and security of health information.

Adding insult to injury to this absurd mishmash of dangerous policies is that our elected officials would spend hundreds of hours – and our hard-earned taxpayer money – to aggressively push it on Indiana during a deadly global health crisis. People in Indiana need relief now – more tests, more vaccines and more plans for reopening – not more restrictions to their health care.

Indiana already has the second-most abortion restrictions in the country; politicians find scoring points with the electorate more important than saving lives. If this legislature cared about solving an actual health issue, it would be addressing the growing maternal and infant mortality crisis or passing meaningful protections for pregnant women.

I shudder to imagine what kind of difficulty this would create for physicians who would not ethically or morally be able to abide by a law that would force widespread malpractice. More importantly, it would push confusion and potentially dangerous complications on our patients seeking necessary health care.

I urge our elected leaders to stop inserting their extreme political opinions into public health and start searching for solutions that actually protect the people of Indiana.

HB 1577 is closer to fiction than legislation – it is bad policy, bad for public health and a waste of everyone's time. 

Dr. Caitlin Bernard is associate medical director for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.

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