CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Senate Health Committee on Thursday amended the bill pertaining to medication abortion to provide protections to doctors who assist women in the mandated, but scientifically untested, procedure of stopping an abortion.
House Bill 2982, or the Second Chance at Life Act, requires a patient undergoing a medication-induced, or “chemical,” abortion to be informed that it may be possible to counteract the effects of the procedure after taking the first of the two drugs in the recommended regimen. The state Department of Health and Human Resources will have to post information about stopping a medication-induced abortion.
The committee adopted amendments from Sen. Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, a physician. The first protects physicians who prescribe a procedure that is not approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. The second removed language added by the House on the floor, requiring women be told the father is responsible for 50% of child-rearing costs from the time of conception.
The bill is similar to other anti-abortion legislation that’s passed in at least six states and led to lawsuits. The legislation in its original form referred to the medically unproven process of using progesterone to “reverse” the abortion.
HB 2982 does not reference the “reversal” process specifically, but Takubo’s amendment would protect physicians who attempt the process with a patient.
A medication-induced abortion involves two pills: first, mifepristone, which blocks the hormone progesterone and prevents further growth of the embryo, and then misoprostol, which causes the uterus to contract and expel the embryo. The reversal theory involves using a high dose of progesterone to support pregnancy after taking mifepristone.
The only study attempted at gauging the efficacy of the so-called reversal procedure of using progesterone was suspended by the review board. After enrolling 12 of 40 patients for the study, three had hemorrhaging that placed them in the hospital. One had received progesterone and the other two only the placebo. The study was stopped after the third hemorrhage as it was deemed unethical to continue. The board determined it was unethical to continue the study.
Takubo said he had heartburn over mandating that physicians provide information about an unproven theory.
Dr. Letitia Tierney, a pediatric specialist in Charleston, testified to the committee that while she does not perform abortions, she had a great deal of concern over the state mandating that unproven theories be discussed with patients. She said she fears it could lead to emotional pain for patients who are misled.
“I couldn’t even go over the likelihood for success or failure with this procedure,” Tierney said. “It would be cruel almost to offer the patient an unknown procedure.”
Nothing prevents doctors from prescribing progesterone currently if that is the decision of the doctor and the patient.
HB 2982 now goes to the Judiciary Committee.