Just as several states now legally obligate doctors to lie to women about the dangers of abortion, Arkansas now has its own law forcing doctors to peddle bullshit. Physicians in the state will be required to tell any woman taking abortion-inducing drugs that she can reverse the process mid-treatment—a claim that's based on pretty much nothing.
The new law—which is almost identical to one passed in Arizona just a few weeks ago—is based on model legislation from pro-life advocacy group Americans United for Life. And any "science" the group's claims rest on is flimsy at best and nonexistent at worse. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) dismissed the very idea, writing:
Claims of medication abortion reversal are not supported by the body of scientific evidence, and this approach is not recommended in ACOG’s clinical guidance on medication abortion. There are no ACOG guidelines that support this course of action.
Currently, most modern medical abortions involve taking a dose of a drug (mifepristone) that blocks the hormones needed to maintain a pregnancy (progesterone). Then, two days later, a second drug called misopristol induces contractions, expelling the pregnancy.
What Arizona wants to do is force doctors to tell women about a very new, very unproven procedure by pro-life doctor George Delgado. Essentially, Delgado claims to have reversed abortions by injecting women with progestorone (the pregnancy-maintaining hormone) before they've taken the second round of treatment. Unfortunately, he's only tried it on six patients so far, and the "reversal" treatment proved no more effective than skipping the second pill entirely.
The limited evidence we have suggests that taking progesterone does not appear to improve the odds of fetal survival by much. The abortion pill binds more tightly to progesterone receptors than progesterone itself does, one reproductive researcher told Iowa Public Radio, and thus the hormone surge is unlikely to do much of anything.
As Cheryl Chastine, an abortion provider at South Wind Women’s Center in Kansas, put it recently, "Even if these doctors were to offer a large dose of purple Skittles, they’d appear to have ‘worked’ to ‘save’ the pregnancy about half the time.”
And yet, we now have two states requiring doctors by law to counsel their patients on what Dr. Ilana Addis, Arizona chair for the ACOG referred to as "voodoo science." As Addis argued right before Arizona passed the law itself, "The rare woman who does regret her choice should not have to be subjected to unproven doses of an unnecessary hormone." [Mother Jones]