Utah lawmakers hear heated debate on proposal to change what doctors tell patients after an abortion

Posted at 9:55 PM, Feb 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-10 23:55:32-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Several people lined up on Capitol Hill Friday afternoon to give compelling public comment on a bill that would change what physicians are required to tell patients who get an abortion.

It centers on the drug mifepristone, known as the abortion pill, and telling patients that its effects can be reversed even after a patient takes the pill.

Some people who came to testify Friday included doctors. One physician, Dr. Ellen Brady, said the claim the effects can be reversed is a pseudo-science.

“Legislative interference in the patient/physician relationship is unwarranted and dangerous,” she further explained.

But others said it actually gives patients more choice—and lets women know they can reverse their abortion should they regret it.

“It is a protective umbrella,” said Utah resident Regina Burton. “It ensures that woman are told of all options."

Comment was torn between both sides on HB 141. The bill would add a few lines to what’s already law when it comes to abortion.

1. That medical personnel, "explain the options and consequences of aborting a medication-induced abortion."

2. That medical personnel provide this statement: "Research indicates that mifepristone alone is not always effective in ending a pregnancy. You may still have a viable pregnancy after taking mifepristone. If you have taken mifepristone but have not yet taken the second drug and have questions regarding the health of your fetus or are questioning your decision to terminate your pregnancy, you should consult a physician immediately."

Essentially, it would require explaining that it’s possible to abort an abortion.

Some said Friday that this statement is false, and dangerous.

“You cannot put into legislation and law a requirement that is scientifically unfounded,” said Chelsea Shields of Utah Women Unite.

But other women disputed that claim, saying the doctors back this science.

Several women who’ve undergone abortions shared their own personal testimony, and explained why think the bill is wrong.

“This bill only accomplishes one goal, which is to further shame women,” one woman testified.

On the other side—those who support the bill said that isn’t the case.

“This bill is so refreshing,” said Nicholeen Peck, president of the Worldwide Organization for Women. “It is not about shaming women."

In the end, the house committee did their own back-and-forth.

“If there's a chance to alleviate suffering in one woman… then I am for this bill,” said Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield.

Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, also spoke.

“I just can't bring myself to feel comfortable that we are not engaging in micromanaging medicine here,” he said.

The committee passed the legislation 9-2, and sent it to debate at the next level.