by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
The Arizona legislature has apparently gone through medical school and graduated. They have passed a new law of the land. A person in Arizona is no longer permitted to buy health insurance on the health exchange if the plan provides coverage for abortion (except for the cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger).
A second provision of the law is what has troubled most people. The law now requires that a physician tell his or her patient that a medically induced abortion can be reversed. When having a medicated abortion, a woman takes mifepristone (RU-486) and several days later, a dose of misprostol. The new law requires women be told that the abortion can be reversed if she has a shot of progesterone after the first pill.
A 2012 study in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy by George Delgado claimed the he reversed abortions in 4 out of 6 women who received progesterone. He also claims that this technique is not commonly known. The article is presented as “a series of cases” rather than as a research study. The article also neglects to mention that if the first drug is taken but not the second, abortion occurs only 40 percent of the time. In Arizona, Dr. Allan Sawyer is a Glendale, AZ OB-GYN who testified that he reversed an abortion using this procedure, once. The reason that this technique is not commonly known, is because there is no technique.
This is not the first time doctors have been forced to lie in the name of stopping abortions. Some states require patients be told about links between abortion and breast cancer, psychological illness, and fetal pain that also lack any scientific evidence.
In the era of evidence-based medicine, doctors in Arizona are being told to lie to their patients. Forcing physicians to tell unscientific information to their patients is egregious. This undermines the very foundation of the physician-patient relationship.
This is not surprising given Arizona’s history. In 2012, Arizona added some obstacles to obtaining an abortion. Abortions can only be performed by physicians even when though nurse practitioners have prescribing privileges in Arizona. And a parent or guardian not only has to consent for a minor to have an abortion, but that consent must be notarized at a bank or notary. The law also requires a 24 hour “reflection period’ between being given state-mandated information and the procedure which requires beyond the usual information about the procedure, risks, benefits, and alternatives: gestational age of the fetus as well as anatomical and physiological characteristics.
In addition, a physician may be civilly liable if either of the following choose to pursue damages: The father if he is married to the mother and the maternal grandparents if the woman is underage.
Arizona’s doctor-legislators have interfered with the physician./nurse practitioner relationship once again. The Indiana legislature is also 80% male meaning that many people creating these laws will never have to face living with them. They clearly do not trust women to make intelligent, well-reasoned decisions about their own bodies and about their pregnancy. If a woman (or any person) is competent and capacitated; can make reflective, well-reasoned choices; and can communicate those ideas and choices to another person, then he or she should be able to make her or his own medical decisions.