IOWA LEGISLATURE

Iowa House panel advances 'informed consent' medication abortion bill

The Iowa State House cupola on Thur. Mar 11, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
The Iowa State House cupola on Thur. Mar 11, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

An Iowa House subcommittee approved proposed regulations of medication abortions, including requiring written consent from the patient, informing women of the possibility of reversing the procedure and for the Department of Public Health to make that information available.

House File 53 defines a medication abortion as one induced by a drug, medicine mixture or preparation administered with the intent to terminate a pregnancy. That would include mifepristone and misoprostol.

The bill would require that facilities offering medication abortions “conspicuously” post information relating to the “effectiveness and possibility of avoiding, ceasing, or even reversing the effects of a medication abortion.”

It also requires that a woman give written consent and acknowledgment of receiving that information.

According to its website, Planned Parenthood offers medication abortion services at a Des Moines location up to 11 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period.

Medication abortions also are available through a national pilot project, TelAbortion, which mails the abortion-inducing pills to women.

Women who exercise their right to an abortion should have the right to be fully informed about that choice, including the options now available to reverse the procedure, according to Kimberly Laube of Lutheran Family Service.

“Women facing an unplanned pregnancy are often afraid and they just want the problem to go away,” she said in written comments. “Decisions are often made in haste. How often have any of us wished we could take back a decision we made in haste?”

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The idea that medication abortions can be reversed is not supported by science, Jamie Burch Elliott of Planned Parenthood Advocates told the subcommittee. Leading medical organizations, she said, also say “unfounded legislative mandates represent dangerous political interference, while compromising patient care and safety.”

“Forcing doctors and abortion providers to give their patients medically unfounded information is not only dangerous, it’s unethical,” she wrote.

Doctors who failed to comply with the bill would be subject to disciplinary action against their licenses.

However, Theresa Welch, a registered nurse for 27 years and executive director of a free medical clinic serving women with unplanned pregnancies, urged passage of HF 53 so women know about the possibility of reversing a medication abortion.

“Humans sometimes change their minds. Let’s give women the choice to change their minds,” Welch said. “I would rather err on the side of overinforming, than on the side of underinforming.”

The bill, which was signed by Republican Reps. Shannon Lundgren of Peosta and Ann Osmundson of Volga, now goes to the full Human Resources committee. The third subcommittee member, Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, did not sign the bill.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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