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Abortion providers would be required to explain the possibility of reversing a medication-induced abortion to their patients under a bill that gained committee approval Friday.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 9-2 in favor of HB141, which would expand Utah's informed consent law to include a disclaimer that in some cases pregnancies can be carried to term after initiating a medication-induced abortion.
That procedure typically involves two rounds of medication, and the first round alone is sometimes insufficient to terminate a pregnancy.
"We're taking the information that doctors have given and putting it in code to ensure the proper informed consent," said Keven Stratton, R-Orem, the bill's sponsor.
But critics from the audience who spoke against the bill said it takes the two-step structure of medication-induced abortions and makes a logical leap unsupported by scientific literature.
While some women have experienced successful births after taking the first round of medication, Brenda Carroll said, there is no peer-reviewed evidence to support the claim that abortions can be safely reversed.
"These are case studies, these are not research," Carroll said. "You can't base informed consent on something that is not scientifically sound."
Vickie Morgan described the bill as "misguided," and said it places unnecessary obstacles between women and medical professionals.
"This bill doesn't protect unborn children," Morgan said. "This bill harms women. This bill forces doctors to choose between best practice and state law."
Utah Eagle Forum executive director Maryann Christensen said she knows many women who regret having an abortion. She said that even if an abortion could not be successfully reversed, the ability of women to take that chance would alleviate guilt later on.
"It gives a woman another choice and a much better choice after she's made that awful one," Christensen said. "The choice for reversal will either save her baby or at least put her mind at ease."
And Mary Taylor, president of Pro Life Utah said she has lived with 35 years of regret after choosing to abort her child.
"To not give a woman one last chance to avoid this heartache would be cruel beyond measure," Taylor said.
Community activist Kate Kelly said that women are smart, and the vast majority who choose to terminate their pregnancies do so without regret and with knowledge of their options.
She said the bill is an attempt to shame women by adding to the many attempts in state law to dissuade them from having an abortion.
"The only thing that this bill does is unnecessarily stigmatize what is a safe and very common medical procedure," Kate Kelly said.
Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, said the issue of abortion can generate different forms of suffering among women. But providing additional information on abortion options, she said, could potentially save some women from experiencing the regret of a terminated pregnancy.
"If there is a chance to alleviate suffering in one woman by adding this language to informed consent then I am for this bill," Lisonbee said.