Arizona first in nation to require patients be informed of abortion-reversal option

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Arizona will become the first state in the nation to require doctors to tell patients that abortions may be reversible, under a controversial bill that deals with an equally controversial method.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill earlier this week.

The highly debated abortion-reversal procedure is done to try and reverse the effects of the so-called abortion pill. It involves a woman being injected with progesterone to counteract the effects of mifepristone – a.k.a., the abortion pill.

Doctors say a patient must undergo the hormone treatment within 72 hours of taking the pill if she decides to keep her baby.

“Women who have initiated a medical abortion process and who change their minds for whatever reason should not have their babies stolen from them because Planned Parenthood or any abortionist withheld life-saving facts or withheld information,” anti-abortion advocate Dr. Allan Sawyer said in testimony before the legislature.

The relatively new procedure was pioneered by Dr. George Delgado, the medical director of California-based non-profit Culture of Life Family Services. He co-authored the first-ever medical literature detailing how progesterone could reverse an abortion in 2007.

That same year, his organization completed its first successful reversal.

“I received a call about a woman who had taken mifepristone, RUU 486, and changed her mind. She wanted help and I offered it,” he told Fox News. “Then I received calls from across the country of doctors and others seeking advice. In 2012, we established Abortion Pill Reversal and its attendant website and hotline.”

News eventually spread to Arizona Republican state Sen. Nancy Barto, who included the provision about disclosing information on abortion reversals as part of broader insurance legislation to prevent women who receive federal subsidies under Affordable Care Act exchanges from being able to buy optional abortion coverage with their plans.

Ducey signed the legislation Monday evening, but stayed mum on the abortion reversal provision, which would require doctors to inform patients about the option when they seek access to the abortion pill.

"The American people overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer funding of abortions, and it's no different in Arizona, where we have long-standing policy against subsidizing them with public dollars," Ducey said in a statement. "This legislation provides clarity to state law."

Critics of the bill have been vocal in their disappointment.

"Instead of delivering on his campaign promises to reduce the negative stigma our state has taken on because of extreme and out-of-touch politics, Gov. Ducey has put Arizona once again in the national spotlight for interfering in the medical decisions of women," Planned Parenthood of Arizona President Bryan Howard said in a statement.

Opponents also say there isn’t enough documented evidence on abortion reversals.

“We like to practice medicine that is evidenced based, and unfortunately the protocol that has been suggested for reversing a medication abortion has no evidence to support it,” Dr. Ilana Addis said in testimony against the bill.

But Delgado says his organization has a success rate of 60 percent, with 87 births since 2007 and 75 women currently still pregnant after successful reversals.

“There have been negative reactions from those who seem to have an agenda and can’t seem to imagine that a woman might change her mind after taking mifepristone … [but] many are relieved to know they have a second chance,” Delgado said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.