OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill requiring physicians inform patients that a medically-induced abortion may be reversible has been sent to the governor’s desk.
The bill would direct signage be posted in facilities where abortions are performed. Physicians would be required to inform women that the process may be reversed after they ingest the first of two abortion-inducing pills.
“If you continue to perform the abortion without the signage posted, without the notice, then there are penalties and fines associated,” said House bill author Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore. “If it’s a doctor, you could be charged with a felony. If it’s facility, then you could be charged $10,000 a day.”
Lepak said the purpose of the bill is to give women a second chance to reconsider.
“A number of women have regret after the abortion. They may have a regret during the process but, if they don’t know there may be a way to reverse the process, then they just don’t know,” Lepak told News 4. “There are a lot of things in this world that, once you make a decision, you can’t undo. This is perhaps one that you can change your mind and you still have some hope that you could deliver a happy, healthy baby.”
The bill passed the House by a vote of 74 to 24 this week. One of the arguments made on the floor was the bill could be unconstitutional.
Jill Webb, legal director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, said a lawsuit was not out of the question if the Senate Bill 614 was signed into law.
“Arizona, for instance, immediately had it challenged, and what they did was reverse the policy even before it got to court for determination,” Webb said. “Not only do you have freedom of speech to say what you want, you also can’t be compelled to say something you don’t believe, and that’s what the problem is.”
Opponents also cited a lack of medical evidence and proven studies showing abortions can be reversed.
Dr. Melinda Cail with Primary Health Parters said there are many medical “unknowns” when it comes to abortion reversals.
“We like to see a sample group of thousands of patients. This study that they based this legislation was a study of seven patients and, so, I think that physicians will find it hard to swallow something that could be a felony that was based on such a small sample,” Cail said. “In that study of seven people, two went on to stop the procedure and had continuation of the pregnancy. It didn’t say anything about, were they healthy babies? Were they healthy moms? What’s the long-term followup?”
News 4 brought this question to Lepak. He noted the study was “very dated,” but he claimed there was growing evidence.
“A couple of years ago, 2017, in another state – at that point, there were over 200 cases, 200 children that were born when their mother went through the reversal process,” he said. “Today, there are over 500.”
To read the full copy of Senate Bill 614, click here.