CHARLESTON — After hearing from advocates on both sides of the debate, the West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee passed out this session’s anti-abortion bill.
House Bill 2982, or the “Second Chance at Life Act,” requires physicians prescribing the two-step medicated, or “chemical,” abortion process to inform the patient that “some suggest it may be possible to counteract” the abortion, a theory that is not medically proven.
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. A theory touted by anti-abortion advocates says the abortion may be “reversed” by taking a high dose of progesterone after mifepristone if a person changes her mind.
While the bill does not specifically refer to the so-called reversal process, it refers to procedures not approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration and not backed by science.
As amended by the Senate, physicians would have to explain all possible outcomes from not taking misoprostol, including a completed abortion, a missed abortion (in which the fetus is not expelled from the body) or even a continued pregnancy. Physicians will also be required to tell patients to contact them if they change their mind before taking the second drug in the procedure.
The only study attempted to be performed on the reversal theory was halted in 2019 after three women (one who received progesterone and two who did not) had severe hemorrhaging requiring hospitalization. The review board for the study found it to be unethical to continue.
“Why would we want to subject West Virginia women to unproven science?” said Sen. Mike Romano, D-Harrison.
Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, said the bill provides women with information they need to make a decision. She said the other option is no choice, but nothing prohibits a woman from stopping in the middle of the medicated abortion procedure today and working with her doctor to support the pregnancy, including the use of progesterone.
Similar bills have been passed in other states and been challenged, most recently in Tennessee. In February, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on the state’s “reversal” law, stopping it from taking place. The lawsuit contends the law violates the free speech rights of physicians.
The bill is opposed by the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It now heads to the floor for a vote.