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American Medical Association sues North Dakota over abortion pill reversal notification law

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Dr. Boles delivers a baby saved by abortion pill reversal treatment

PETITION: Tell the American Medical Association to stop fighting pro-life laws. Sign the petition here.

July 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The American Medical Association (AMA) is suing the state of North Dakota along with abortion organizations to stop two pro-life laws on the grounds that they force doctors to give “false, misleading, non-medical information” to patients.

The lawsuit targets a law that requires doctors to inform pregnant women it may be possible to reverse a chemical abortion, passed this year and set to go into effect August 1, and another already in effect requiring physicians to tell patients the scientific fact that abortion ends “the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being.” 

The AMA sued last week in a joint filing with the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), which filed on behalf of the Red River Women’s Clinic, North Dakota’s sole abortion facility. 

The idea that chemical abortion – abortion committed by taking pills – may be reversed is “a claim wholly unsupported by the best, most reliable evidence,” the lawsuit says, and thus “contravenes” doctors’ “ethical and legal obligations as medical providers.”

The suit also claims that this “compels medical providers to convey a controversial and ideological message about fetal personhood that is unmoored from medical science.”

The AMA and the others call this “forced speech, which requires physicians to deliver to their patients false, misleading, non-medical information with which they disagree, to advertise an experimental treatment that runs counter to their patients’ best interests, and to violate their medical ethics.”

“The AMA will step in when there is any interference with our ability to talk to our patients about legal, evidence-based medical procedures,” AMA President Patrice A. Harris told the Associated Press.

AMA lawyers are monitoring all laws they believe infringe on doctor-patient relationships, Harris said, according to the AP, and decided North Dakota’s was the next case to be “actively involved in.”

Harris’s statement on the lawsuit said the AMA “will always defend science and open conversations about all health care options available to patients.”

“The patient-physician relationship is the cornerstone of health care, and depends upon honest, open conversations about all of a patient’s health care options,” she said in a report from CBS News.

The AMA is the largest association of doctors in the United States, representing some 240,000 physicians. 

While the AMA has had the reputation of a leading medical authority that operates outside of partisan politics, in recent years it has become increasingly ideological. Its moves signaling this include dropping official opposition to doctor-assisted suicideendorsing human cloning, backing a proposal that would force pharmacists to dispense abortifacients, and claiming that laws against same-sex “marriage” were responsible for healthcare inequalities.

‘Abortion ends the life of a developing human being’

LifeSiteNews has launched a petition urging the AMA to stop fighting pro-life laws in court.

The Personhood Alliance, a partner with LifeSite in the petition, denounced the AMA lawsuit’s premise in a statement.

“Contrary to what the AMA is arguing in its lawsuit, the reality is that the science of chemical abortion reversal is very sound, and the fact that abortion ends the life of a developing human being is incontrovertible,” it said.

CRR staff attorney Molly Duane went a step further than Harris, saying North Dakota’s law concerning chemical abortion reversal compels doctors to lie and violate the Hippocratic oath. The law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians by requiring them to spread false and nonscientific information, she said in a Huffington Post report

“The notion of ‘abortion reversal’ is based on junk science,” Duane said. “This law effectively forces physicians to lie to their patients, and it forces them to violate their medical ethics to do no harm.”

States act to save lives from chemical abortion

HB 1336 was signed into law by Republican Governor Doug Burgum on March 22 of this year, and had the support of the North Dakota Catholic Conference.

The law requires doctors to inform patients that it may be possible to reverse the effects of the abortion pill if the mother changes her mind, but that time is imperative, and that information and assistance are available in printed materials provided. The materials are to include information on where to obtain further information and assistance in finding a medical professional to assist in the abortion pill reversal.

The chemical abortion process uses two pills: mifepristone and misoprostol. The pregnant mother takes mifepristone first, which destabilizes her pregnancy by blocking progesterone receptors and reducing progesterone levels in her blood. Her abortion is then completed when misoprostol induces labor, and cause her body to expel the baby.

Abortion pill reversal treatment works by giving the mother extra progesterone up to 72 hours after she takes the first chemical abortion pill. It’s most effective in the first 24 hours. By giving extra progesterone – the natural hormone in a woman’s body necessary to nurture and sustain a pregnancy – the goal is to combat the mifepristone in order to reverse its effects.

The approximately decade-old protocol was developed using a new application of an FDA-approved progesterone treatment used since the 1950s to stop miscarriages, and initial studies of abortion pill reversal have shown that it has a 64 to 68 percent success rate, according to the Abortion Pill Rescue Network (APRN), a program of Heartbeat International. The network consists of 450 professional health care providers in the U.S. and 11 other countries that assist women who call the 24-hour abortion pill reversal hotline. APRN advocates say some 750 babies have been saved by the reversal treatment.

Critics say the protocol is anecdotal and insufficiently tested. Pro-abortion advocates are particularly vocal in their opposition.

Eight states – Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Utah – have passed similar laws requiring abortionists to tell patients about abortion pill reversal, CBS News reports. Five of the states, including Arkansas, which expanded an existing law, passed their laws in the past year.

Heartbeat International’s Director of Communications and Marketing Andrea Trudden reaffirmed the success of abortion pill reversal to LifeSiteNews. 

Success and support

“It is unfortunate that the AMA would recommend that doctors deny information and care to women who may regret taking the abortion pill,” Trudden said. “Every woman should know about abortion pill reversal so she can have hope if she changes her mind.”

“Scientifically proven to have a 64 to 68 percent success rate, abortion pill reversal is the last chance for women who have already started a chemical abortion to choose life with more than 750 babies born to date,” she added.

Trudden also dismissed the contention made in the lawsuit that the autonomy of life in the womb is not established science.

“The fact that anyone in today’s world denies the fact that the life inside the mother is not a unique body is either incredibly uninformed or is choosing ignorance,” she said. “The American College of Pediatrics, Princeton University, and countless scientists all have publicly stated that human life begins at the moment of fertilization.” 

Advocating for women, or for abortion?

Doctor Brent Boles is among the U.S. OB-GYNs to have delivered a child saved by abortion pill reversal treatment. A supporter of Personhood Tennessee, Boles had stiff criticism for the AMA’s stance on abortion pill reversal.

“The only thing ‘unmoored’ from reality and from science is the AMA’s position on this issue,” Boles said. 

“Abortion advocates would have us believe that they empower women and advocate for women,” he said. “Trying to prevent women from being given accurate and complete information with which to make a decision doesn't empower them. It manipulates them. They are not advocating for women; they are advocating for abortion, and that’s not the same thing.”

Doctor Matthew Clark, president of Personhood South Carolina, called the AMA's lawsuit politically motivated.

“Sadly, the American Medical Association continues to reject the Biblical foundations of western medicine, sliding now into patently politically motivated activities, as evidenced by this unscientific and immoral lawsuit against North Dakota,” Clark said. “By this action, the AMA proves once again how out of touch it is with the true heart of being a good doctor.”

Doctor Matthew Harrison, one of the founders of the abortion pill reversal protocol, weighed in on the lawsuit, saying it endeavors to deny women their choice to reverse their chemical abortion, and that it is abortion providers what are making claims outside of scientific research.

“The AMA has unjustly attacked the new North Dakota law that seeks to inform women of their choice to reverse the chemical abortion process begun by mifepristone,” Harrison said. “This law is necessary because of the repeated false claims by abortion facilities that nothing can be done after the process has begun and that babies will have serious side effects if the process is not completed. Both of these claims are completely unfounded in any scientific research.”

‘Safe for both the mother and for her unborn child’

The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a 2,500-member organization, supports offering abortion pill reversal to women who regret initiating the abortion pill process, after appropriate informed consent.

“The Abortion Pill Reversal process is safe for both the mother and for her unborn child,” the group says, “and offers a real chance for the woman to rescue her unborn child when she has changed her mind about abortion.” 

Doctor Joseph Harmon, assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend, who practiced for 23 years with OBGYN Associates of Northern Indiana until 2018, recently spoke with the South Bend Tribune about abortion pill reversal.

Harmon said although he’d never been asked to provide reversal treatment as an OB-GYN, he would have been comfortable doing so.

“There’s certainly nothing harmful about giving someone progesterone who is pregnant in an attempt to try to stave off the effects of mifepristone,” said Harmon.

Although there is no guarantee the treatment will work, he said, “I think there’s a potential benefit.”

A ‘public health crisis’ to deny Planned Parenthood some of its millions in taxpayer funding?

The AMA sued the Trump administration this past March along with Planned Parenthood over a regulation under the Title X family planning program that would prevent facilities receiving Title X family planning federal funding from performing, counseling, or referring for abortion, and requires they be physically and financially separate from abortion facilities. Twenty-one states had also sued to block the rule. 

The changed threatened to cut a tenth of Planned Parenthood’s federal tax funding, or almost $60 million, the AMA and Planned Parenthood arguing it would result in a “public health crisis.” A federal judge subsequently issued a temporary injunction on the rule while the cases are litigated.

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