Abortion pill reversal treatments closer to being banned in Colorado

Abortion Pills
Allen G. Breed/AP Photo
Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., March 16, 2022.

A Colorado law that would ban so-called abortion pill reversal treatments overcame a significant hurdle to its implementation on Thursday when the Colorado Medical Board determined that it does not consider the controversial treatment to be standard medical practice. 

The Board’s rule was a critical step before the first-in-the-nation ban could go into effect. Democrats passed the bill last session and crafted it in such a way that medication abortion reversal would only stay legal if the boards of medicine, nursing and pharmacy all agree that it was standard practice. 

“I am happy that the Board did their work to look at scientific evidence and said this is not professional conduct and meets the intent of the legislation and furthers protection for patients,” said Democratic Sen. Faith Winter, one of the main sponsors of Senate Bill 190.

The medical board’s final rule is a significant departure from the draft proposal that had been circulating for weeks. Under the draft, the Board declined to weigh in one way or another on whether medication abortion is standard practice and said patient complaints would instead be investigated on a case-by-case basis. 

In a medication abortion, a person takes two different drugs, up to 48 hours apart. The first, Mifepristone, blocks the hormone progesterone and stops the development of the pregnancy. The second, Misoprostol, induces a miscarriage. The reversal procedure tries to interrupt that process by administering a big dose of progesterone after the first pill.

The country’s largest medical associations, including the American Medical Society and the American College of OBGYNs, do not consider the procedure safe or scientifically sound. A study of its effectiveness was halted in 2019 after several participants were hospitalized for severe bleeding.

Supporters of the procedure say Colorado’s law targets religious clinics’ duty to help pregnant women in need — especially women who want to continue their pregnancies after changing their mind about having an abortion. A lawsuit challenging Colorado’s law has been on hold pending the rulemaking process.

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