A group of powerful Republican state senators are signing on to a bill requiring women to meet with a doctor in person before getting an abortion pill and for doctors to inform women on ways to reverse their abortion, a possibility rejected by medical associations.

Under the  “Women’s Health and Safety Act”, doctors would be forced to provide women with more information about abortion medication mifepristone and the medical risks associated with taking the prescription drug. The Biden administration relaxed federal regulations so that abortion pills can be mailed directly to women without an initial visit to a doctor’s office after telemedicine became a more popular method of doctor-patient care during the pandemic.

Senate Bill 351 is sponsored by Sen. Bruce Thompson, a candidate for Georgia Labor Commissioner, and is also signed by 23 other legislators that include Majority Caucus Leader Mike Dugan, Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller and Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis.

The proposal calls for women to sign a consent agreement at least 24 hours before they attempt to induce an abortion. The agreement outlines the risks of the procedure and other options they may choose if they don’t want to go through with it.

Thompson, who lives in White, claims in the legislation that women should be made aware of the possibility of reversing the abortion by using  the hormone progesterone.

“Not having this information readily accessible to women undergoing chemical abortion impedes access to time-sensitive medication for women who may experience regret after ingesting mifepristone,” the legislation says. 

However, prominent medical organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reject the claim that an abortion can be reversed, saying science does not support the notion.

Physicians shouldn’t be required by political leaders to give inaccurate information or mandate treatments, the OBGYN group states on its website. In some other states, it’s been left up to judges to decide whether it is lawful to inform women that they can undo their abortions. 

“Yet, politicians are pushing legislation to require physicians to recite a script that a medication abortion can be ‘reversed’ with doses of progesterone, and to steer women to this care,” the association said. “Unfounded legislative mandates represent dangerous political interference and compromise patient care and safety.”

In 2019, Georgia Republican legislators escalated the fight over abortion rights by passing a bill outlawing most abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected, which is around six weeks into a pregnancy. Legal challenges are ongoing.

Thompson’s anti-abortion bill was introduced the week of the 49th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Democratic House members have filed a resolution asking legislators and GOP Gov. Brian Kemp to protect women’s reproductive rights after 13 abortion restriction bills have been passed from 2005 to 2019.

Democrats cited an Emory University study that details how restricting access to abortion care increases maternal mortality and disproportionally harms Black people and the poor.

“Creating a just and equitable world means ending restrictions on abortion care, particularly when the harm falls hardest on those who already face significant barriers to care,” Rep. Park Cannon, of Atlanta, said. “Our job as lawmakers is to make the future bigger and better than the status quo. This resolution demonstrates a vision of a Georgia where the shape, timing, size and makeup of our families is up to each of us.”

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.

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