Clarence Mason Weaver, part of Trump’s new “Black Voices for Trump” reelection initiative, has lots of thoughts on women.

Cover image from Weaver’s Facebook page

A member of the advisory board for “Black Voices for Trump,” an initiative recently launched by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, has said that women are not equal to men and suggested that women would be better off acting like “handmaidens” rather than “queens.”

Clarence Mason Weaver, described as an author and motivational speaker on one of his websites, has posted multiple videos online where he discusses the purported differences between men and women and expounds on his beliefs about women’s role in society, as first reported Monday by Media Matters for America, a progressive nonprofit organization. The titles of those videos include “Men and women are not equal,” “Toxic Feminism is the real problem,” and “Why are women so masculine?”

In the video entitled “Men and women are not equal,” posted in August, Weaver warned female viewers that men are not looking for “queens.” “We look for handmaidens, sweetheart,” he said. “We look for a helpmate out here, girl.”

He went on, “If you’re as strong as I am, you go and deal with the burglar next time. You’re as strong as I am, you go out at night and take care of the car. If you’re as strong as I am — if you’re not, be quiet and be humble and be submissive.”

In a December 2017 video, Weaver spoke about how women can, in his opinion, simply accuse a man of “something” and ruin his career.

“Can you imagine a situation where a female is in competition with a male worker for a promotion?” he asked. “All she has to do now is go whisper in the boss’s ear or the head of the human resources. Just whisper in their ear, so-and-so molested me, so-and-so made a comment. A comment now. Folks, you can’t even say the wrong thing, hurt their feelings. And that guy will not get the promotion and no one will know why. Women are setting themselves up to be so fragile that we can’t even blow on them without them coming against us. So who wants to hire a female now?”

On October 8, 2016, after the Washington Post published a tape of Trump bragging about grabbing women by the pussy while he visited the “Access Hollywood” set, Weaver posted a video called “Trump likes women, imagine that!”

In it, he attacked Republican leaders for not standing behind Trump. “Every man talks like that,” he said. “Every man thinks like that, and stop quivering behind the skirts of the feminists!”

Weaver — who also sometimes goes by the names “Mason Weaver” and “Clarence A. Mason, Media Matters reported — didn’t immediately reply to a VICE News request for comment through one of his websites. Other members of the advisory board include personalities like Herman Cain, Diamond and Silk, and “Clueless” actress Stacey Dash.

Source: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vb5axm/new-trump-advisory-board-member-thinks-women-should-be-handmaidens?utm_source=vicenewsfacebook&fbclid=IwAR3cfF9TQ9Pig9XUfsUJ_FAdTz3VwJoVCvWMIIQYnvV4pmOEJ30lSS0Meoc

Campaigners hail Alberto Fernández’s pledge to oversee U-turn in official policy

Many Argentinian women have joined mass protests calling for abortion to be legalised. Photograph: Demian Alday Estévez/EPA

Argentina’s president-elect, Alberto Fernández, has promised he will move to legalise abortion after taking office on 10 December.

He will send a bill to congress which, if approved, would make Argentina the first major Latin American nation with legalised abortion. The ruling in the 45 million-strong country would follow decisions by its much smaller neighbour Uruguay, which legalised the practice in 2012, and Cuba, in 1965.

“I am an activist for putting an end to the criminalisation of abortion,” Fernández said in an interview with the daily Página/12. “There’s going to be a bill of law sent by the president.”

The announcement would represent a major U-turn for official policy in Argentina, which has steadfastly opposed legalisation. A bill presented by women’s rights activists was rejected by the senate by 38 votes to 31 last year, after the president at the time, Mauricio Macri, refused to endorse it.

Fernández’s pledge was welcomed by equality campaigners in Argentina, where the struggle to end discrimination and violence against women has sparked a mass movement including a large number of women’s marches.

“I still can’t believe it’s happening,” said Ana Correa, a member of the #NiUnaMenos (“Not one less”, meaning not one more woman lost to male violence) collective, in a country where every 30 hours another woman becomes the victim of “femicide”, an Argentinian legal term encompassing domestic violence, “honour” killings and other categories of hate crimes against women.

“The women’s movement is one of the most important political occurrences of the last four years,” Correa said, “and I think this time, with the backing of the new president, a legal abortion law will be finally enacted.”

Pope Francis, who remains involved in the politics of his home country, has made no secret of his opposition to legal abortion and reportedly asked anti-abortion legislators to pressure fellow lawmakers to reject last year’s bill.

Argentina would also stand out as the first predominantly Catholic nation in the region – 92% of the population declared themselves Catholic in the last 2011 census – to legalise abortion. In Uruguay, 41% of the population is Catholic and in Cuba it is 60%. Abortion is also legal in South America’s English-speaking Guyana.

“I don’t want this debate to be a dispute between progressives and conservatives, between revolutionaries and retrogrades, this is a public health issue,” said Fernández.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/17/argentina-new-president-vows-legalise-abortion?fbclid=IwAR29kBlnoWpvw3umtf23TsViCj4EM-2k83uI3kk2WlkExw7oLEjfiZRiQXI

The Kansas Supreme Court ruling that abortion is a fundamental right has sent anti-choice organizations and lawmakers scrambling.

A Kansas Supreme Court ruling has prompted abortion rights opponents to call for amending the state constitution, though they are divided on the best strategy.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Both pro-choice advocates and their opponents in Kansas are determining how best to proceed in the wake of the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling declaring abortion a fundamental right protected by the state’s constitution.

The ruling could have far-reaching effects on the state’s anti-choice laws, even as some anti-choice activists in Kansas continue to push a “fetal personhood” constitutional amendment that would wipe out any chance to improve access to abortion care in the state.

In April, the high court struck down a law banning the most common form of second-trimester abortion care, finding that the Kansas Constitution protects the right to personal autonomy and that includes the choice to have an abortion.

The court’s decision means abortion restrictions must be evaluated more stringently than the undue burden standard used at the federal level. And it means the right to an abortion in Kansas is protected even if Roe v. Wade is overturned by conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The ruling that abortion is a fundamental right in Kansas protects abortion even more strongly [than] Roe v. Wade, which is promising, especially in an era when it looks like the [U.S.] Supreme Court is set to undermine or overturn that ruling,” said Elise Higgins, vice president of the Kansas Abortion Fund, which provides financial and logistical support to Kansans seeking abortion care.

The ruling has prompted abortion opponents to call for amending the state constitution—though they are divided on the best strategy. Some groups are pushing for a so-called personhood amendment that would grant constitutional rights to fertilized eggs, while others want to amend the state constitution to specify it does not include the right to abortion.

“What the personhood amendment says is that we recognize the humanity of the unborn child from their earliest biological beginning,” Bruce Garren, chairman of Personhood Kansas, said at a legislative committee hearing in October. The state’s leading anti-choice group, Kansans For Life, has pushed back against a “personhood” amendment in support of a more incremental approach, the Associated Press reported.

“We’re interested in making a difference, and not just a statement,” Jeanne Gawdun, director of government relations with Kansans for Life, said at the hearing.

Anti-choice groups are concerned the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling will undo years of anti-choice laws in place. But because Kansas courts have not yet had the opportunity to review current laws under the strict scrutiny standard the ruling’s implications are not yet clear, said Rachel Sweet, regional director of public policy and organizing at Planned Parenthood Great Plains.

“Our opposition is saying is that this is going to put every abortion law in jeopardy, and frankly we just don’t know yet,” Sweet told Rewire.News. “It will take years to figure out what the actual, real impacts of this decision are.”

While no one can say for certain how existing anti-choice laws will be affected, Higgins said the ruling could shape the outcome of a case challenging targeted regulations of abortion providers, or TRAP laws. SB 36, passed by Kansas Republican legislators in 2011, imposed onerous licensing requirements on abortion facilities, such as specific dimensions of rooms and hallways. TRAP laws are designed to make compliance so difficult that many abortion clinics shut down.

The law was swiftly challenged and enjoined, so it has never been in effect in Kansas. But because its regulations would shut down at least one abortion facility in Kansas, it likely won’t hold up under the strict scrutiny standard set by the Kansas Supreme Court, Higgins said. As of 2017, Kansas had four facilities providing abortion services, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

“Because the law is explicitly intended to shut down an abortion provider, it negatively affects abortion access in a way that would be contrary to the ruling that everyone has the right to bodily autonomy,” Higgins told Rewire.News.

The strict scrutiny standard seems to offer a path to undo some of the state’s abortion restrictions, which include state-mandated counseling intended to dissuade patients from getting an abortion; a forced 24-hour waiting period; parental consent for minors; and a prohibition on private insurance companies covering abortion outside life endangerment circumstances, unless an individual spends more money on an optional rider. But pro-choice advocates say they are are more concerned with stopping a constitutional amendment than overturning current laws.

“If a constitutional amendment passes saying there’s no right to abortion, then the minute Roe v. Wade is undermined or overturned, people in Kansas will lose their right to abortion, period,” Higgins said. “This fight has existential stakes.”

Republicans introduced a “personhood” amendment in January, but the bill did not advance out of committee. A similar measure failed to pass in 2017. So-called personhood measures have been rejected by voters in several states, including Colorado, where a “personhood” ballot initiative has failed multiple times.

Amending the state constitution requires a two-thirds majority in both the state house and senate before the issue can go on the ballot for a statewide vote. Though Kansas has a Democratic governor, the GOP still holds large majorities in both chambers, with 84 of 125 seats in the house and 28 of 40 seats in the state senate.

In May, Republican lawmakers failed by a single vote to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto of a bill requiring doctors tell patients that medication abortion can be reversed, a claim that has not been verified by the medical and scientific communities. The same two-thirds majority needed to sustain a veto would be needed to approve a constitutional amendment.

“It’s real close,” Sweet said. “We’ve done it. I think we can do it again, but it’s not easy.”

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2019/11/12/this-fight-has-existential-stakes-how-a-court-ruling-has-thrown-kansas-abortion-laws-into-flux/

After regaining control of both chambers of the state legislature, Virginia Democrats can undo decades of anti-choice laws.

For the first time in a while, abortion rights supporters in Virginia are feeling optimistic.

Tuesday night’s election results gave Democrats a majority in the state legislature, handing the party control of the state government for the first time in more than a quarter century. The advantage empowers Democrats to pass a slate of long-anticipated progressive legislation, including measures that would roll back decades of anti-choice lawmaking, which has made Virginia into one of the most hostile states for abortion access in the country.

Currently, people in Virginia seeking an abortion must first undergo state-mandated counseling, receive an ultrasound, and then wait 24 hours before a doctor can perform the procedure. Virginia law also prohibits health insurance plans people buy from the state under the Affordable Care Act from covering abortions, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest. And people under 18 who want an abortion need parental consent.

“That’s the first order of business: rolling back these egregious, restrictive laws so the state can just get to a place where Virginians can access care,” said Paulette McElwain, the board chair of Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC. “These laws have had a dramatic impact on someone’s ability to access care.”

But reproductive health advocates in Virginia aim to do more than just repair the harm left in the wake of 25 years of anti-abortion governance. They’re hoping Virginia will join states like New York, Maine, and Nevada in passing proactive legislation to enshrine abortion protections into state law, in anticipation of a future where the Supreme Court could severely diminish Roe v. Wade.

So far, the majority of states to adopt this legislation have been concentrated in the Northeast and on the West Coast, which means vast swaths of the country—particularly the South—would be left without access to abortion services in the absence of Roe and other landmark abortion rights cases. Meanwhile, states bordering Virginia, like Tennessee and Kentucky, were among the eight to pass trigger laws earlier this year that would immediately ban abortion if federal rights were overturned. Kentucky is also a state with just one remaining abortion clinic, as is West Virginia.

Advocates imagine a blue Virginia serving as a vital access point for abortion in a part of the country in dire need.

“Our vision is to make Virginia a safe haven for abortion care and access,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. “In the event of the worst-case scenario—that Roe is overturned—we can put these safeguards in place to make sure people who live in surrounding states and even beyond have access to care.”

Virginia came close to seeing abortion access go further in the other direction. In May, state delegate Bob Thomas said Republicans planned on introducing a near-total abortion ban if the party was able to maintain control of the state legislature and, in 2021, win back the governor’s mansion. He wanted to see Virginia align with states like Georgia, Alabama, and Ohio, which, at the time, had just passed bans that sent residents in their state into a panic.

“I would love to see Virginia move that way but we have to have a governor who’s willing to sign these things,” Thomas said at the time. “So we have to make some real progress in the next two years.”

Conservatives in the state had also hoped to piggyback on the momentum of anti-abortion attacks that targeted Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and state delegate Kathy Tran back in February. After Northam bungled his response to a question about a bill Tran introduced that would ease restrictions on abortion later in pregnancy, President Donald Trump told his supporters that Northam wanted to “execute a baby after birth.”

“They’re willing to spread disinformation to mislead people when it comes to what we stand for and what abortion care is all about,” Keene said. “We know those are just desperate measures, and voters definitely rejected that.”

Just because Virginia Democrats have a new majority in the state, doesn’t mean pro-choice supporters can sit back and relax. If they want to meet their ultimate goal of codifying the right to abortion in the state constitution, they’ll have to move fast: Virginia law says that if legislators want to amend the state constitution they’ll have to pass the amendment in the general assembly, wait for a new gubernatorial election, and then pass it in the general assembly once again. That means if reproductive rights advocates want to cement abortion rights in Virginia’s constitution, they’ll have to make sure Northam’s successor is also pro-choice. (Governors in Virginia are only allowed to serve one term.)

But organizers and advocates in Virginia now have a lot of experience holding onto contentious seats, winning seemingly unwinnable ones, and gaining ground for progressive candidates. It was just two years ago that Democrats in Virginia last grabbed national attention for flipping 15 seats. Eleven of them were won by Democratic women replacing Republican men, who helped make up a historic number of women in the chamber: Among them were the first Latinas, the first lesbian, the first transgender woman, and the first Asian American woman ever to be elected to the chamber.

Ben Ray, the senior director of campaign communications at EMILY’s List, which backed several women candidates for Virginia’s state legislature, said by now, he’s learned well: Don’t wait for the perfect seat to open up—if you run strong candidates, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised.

“Part of the lesson here is to equip everybody and prepare everybody,” Ray said. “If you do, you’ll find yourself in a place where we’re flipping chambers, like we did last night. It’s about making sure you’re ready to seize the opportunity.”

Source: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43km8n/virginia-2019-election-virginia-could-become-safe-haven-for-abortion-access-in-the-south?fbclid=IwAR2alyOE7Za43JtC2qMhw46ISlBD8Q-OulTrsdJus2IMLNFxR3uz-s1RKw4

Republican members of Congress continue to push the false narrative that medication abortion—especially through telemedicine methods—is unsafe and poorly regulated.

A 2018 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that serious complications from medication abortion are rare.
Shutterstock

U.S. Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) introduced a bill last month that would impede access to medication abortion through telemedicine and punish health-care providers with heavy fines and possible prison time. It comes weeks after another conservative member of Congress introduced a bill focused on medication abortion.

The Teleabortion Prevention Act of 2019 (HR 4935) was introduced on October 30. It would make it a federal offense for a health-care provider who provides medication abortion to do so without a physical examination of the patient,  “without being physically present at the location of the chemical abortion,” and without scheduling a follow-up visit that happens 14 days after the administration of the medication abortion. The health-care provider could be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned for up to two years, or both, under this legislation.

The bill repeatedly refers to medication abortion as “chemical abortion,” a term used by anti-choice organizations such as March for Life, National Right to Life Committee, and the Susan B. Anthony List. The latter two groups endorsed the legislation. “The use of the term ‘chemical’ as opposed to ‘medication’ is meant to spread the lie that medication abortion procedures are not medical in nature,” said Nimra Chowdhry, state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The bill appears to be part of a broader, sustained strategy from anti-choice lawmakers and organizations across the country to portray medication abortion as unsafe through misinformation and overregulation of medication that has a 19-year safety record.

Medication abortion requires that a patient take two pills, mifepristone and misoprostol. It is commonly used for abortion at or under ten weeks after the first day of a patient’s last period. A 2018 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that serious complications from medication abortion are rare. The report found “no evidence” to suggest state regulations of medication abortion “improve safety or quality of care,” according to the National Academies.

Many patients in rural areas of the country where clinicians may be inaccessible require the use of telemedicine methods for medication abortion. This involves clinicians speaking with patients through a video conference, considering patient health records, and authorizing the medication remotely. According to a 2017 report from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, around half of U.S. counties didn’t have an obstetrician-gynecologist in 2010.

But Republican members of Congress continue to push the false narrative that medication abortion—especially through telemedicine methods—is unsafe and poorly regulated.

“Although we currently have protections in place, pro-abortion groups are looking to get around the law. There is evidence that teleabortion participants are not getting appropriate medical advice or assistance, and ending up severely injured,” Rep. Wright said in a statement on the bill that did not offer evidence to back up his claim.

Wright’s bill follows the introduction of Rep. Robert Latta’s (R-OH) HR 4399, the Support and Value Expectant Moms Act of 2019 in mid-September. This bill would prevent the dispensation of medication abortion pills by telemedicine or mail. Under the legislation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would also be prevented from approving new medication abortion drugs and making labeling changes for already approved drugs. Latta in a statement on the bill made a similar false claim to Wright that medication was “dangerous,” and that there wasn’t “proper medical oversight” of medication abortion.

Chowdhry said the introduction of the bills should come as no surprise. By attacking medication abortion access, anti-abortion groups and lawmakers can place barriers to abortion on all sides.

“Taken together, these bills attack how patients access abortion care while overregulating the medication itself,” she said. “This comes at a time when states are rapidly restricting access to abortion care, and telemedicine is improving access—so we are not surprised that this type of policy has become a new focus for federal lawmakers.”

Chowdhry added that the strategy of these bills appears to be a “calculated push” by federal lawmakers, anti-choice groups, and anti-choice state legislators to spread misinformation about medication abortion and make it more difficult to access the procedure.

This has already happened on the state level. Several states have enacted requirements mandating misinformation about medication abortion, forcing doctors to falsely tell patients that it’s possible to reverse a medication abortion as part of pre-abortion counseling. KentuckyNebraskaOklahoma, and North Dakota legislatures enacted those requirements this year. (The latter two aren’t in effect after courts temporarily blocked them.) Arkansas passed such a requirement in 2015; it passed another law in March 2019 specifying that the “abortion reversal” notification must be in writing.

Bans on administering medication abortion through telemedicine are also widespread. According to the Guttmacher Institute, “34 states require clinicians who perform medication abortion procedures to be a physician” and “18 states require the clinician providing a medication abortion to be physically present during the procedure, thereby prohibiting the use of telemedicine to prescribe medication for abortion remotely.”

“The introduction of this type of legislation highlights how anti-abortion lawmakers want to spread lies both through legislation and regulation, even though medication abortion is routinely, and safely provided nationwide,” Chowdhry said.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2019/11/13/anti-choice-lawmakers-make-calculated-push-to-restrict-medication-abortion/

DAYTON, Ohio — In a win for abortion access in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has granted a license to Women’s Med Center, the last abortion clinic in the Dayton area. After a weeks-long legal battle, the clinic can now resume providing surgical abortion services.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio, and attorney Jennifer Branch represented Women’s Med in its fight against a state law requiring abortion clinics to have a written patient-transfer agreement with a local hospital — a medically unnecessary regulation designed to close clinics and cut off abortion access. Now that its license has been granted, Women’s Med can return to providing patients with the full scope of abortion care. The case will continue, with the goal of striking down the written transfer agreement requirement.

“Women’s Med has safely provided critical health care services to people in the community for decades, so there was no justification for forcing it to stop providing surgical abortion care in the first place,” said Elizabeth Watson, staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “We will continue to fight until the medically unnecessary, unconstitutional restrictions are struck down once and for all.”

“We’re relieved that Women’s Med Center in Dayton is now fully able to see patients,” said Elizabeth Bonham, staff attorney for the ACLU of Ohio. “The Center had to turn away dozens of patients for no legitimate reason. That’s why we are fighting to remove these hurdles for good.”

“The Ohio Department of Health never should have held up Women’s Med Center’s license in the first place,” said attorney Jennifer Branch. “Patients have had to go to other providers in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Indianapolis, causing delays and added costs. Fortunately, Dayton-area women will now be able to again access surgical abortions close to their home.”

“Today’s news is a relief for patients across the Dayton area who depend on Women’s Med Center for comprehensive reproductive health care. Ohio is among a growing list of states drastically restricting access to safe and legal abortion through laws that medical experts agree do not enhance patient health or safety,” said Kersha Deibel, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio President and CEO. “Patient safety is our number one priority and abortion is an extremely safe procedure. This was never about patient safety; it was to make it nearly impossible for abortion providers to operate in Ohio and make it impossible for people to access safe, legal abortion.”

Source: https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/ohio-department-health-grants-license-last-dayton-area-abortion-clinic

There’s no real evidence that it works — and no data on the side effects.

Three mifepristone abortion pills are held in a hand on December 1, 2000. Bill Grenblatt/Liaison/Getty Images

“Even if you’ve taken the abortion pill, you can still change your mind,” proclaims the website of a group called Alternatives Pregnancy Center.

The center offers what it calls “abortion pill reversal,” a treatment it claims can stop a medication abortion that’s already been started. Many organizations around the country are beginning to offer the procedure, and a growing number of states require that patients seeking abortions be told about it.

But there’s a problem. “All of the evidence that we have so far indicates that this treatment is not effective,” Daniel Grossman, an OB-GYN and the director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, a research group at the University of California San Francisco, told Vox.

Pioneered by an anti-abortion doctor in California, abortion “reversal” involves taking the hormone progesterone after the first dose of abortion medication. However, reproductive health experts, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, say there’s no evidence the procedure actually works to stop an abortion from happening. And, they warn, no one knows what the side effects might be of taking progesterone in an effort to reverse abortion medication.

But Republican-controlled state legislatures are increasingly passing bills requiring doctors to tell patients about the possibility of abortion reversal. The latest is Ohio, where the state Senate passed such a bill last week; the legislation now goes to the state House for consideration.

Anti-abortion groups argue that progesterone is safe and the laws are just a way to make sure patients are aware of their options. But reproductive health advocates say pregnant people around the country are essentially becoming test subjects in an unscientific and unethical experiment.

“It’s one thing when states were forcing abortion providers to give information that was inaccurate about the risks associated with abortion,” Grossman said. “This takes it to a whole new level.”

A California doctor claims abortion medication can be “reversed” with progesterone

Typically, a medication abortion works like this: The pregnant patient takes a pill, called mifepristone, meant to stop the pregnancy from progressing. Then, up to 48 hours later, the patient takes a second pill, misoprostol, that induces contractions and causes the uterus to empty. Mifepristone has been FDA-approved since 2000, and the procedure works to end a pregnancy about 95-99 percent of the time.

But in 2012, Dr. George Delgado, a family medicine physician in San Diego who identifies as pro-life, announced that he had developed a method to reverse the process, according to NPR. If patients changed their minds about the abortion after taking mifepristone but before taking misoprostol, he said, taking progesterone could help the pregnancy continue.

In a paper published that year, he said that of six patients who had received progesterone injections after taking mifepristone, four were able to continue their pregnancies.

When his research came to the attention of anti-abortion advocates, states around the country started passing laws requiring doctors to tell patients that medication abortions could be reversed. The first, Arkansas, passed its law in 2015, and such laws are now on the books in at least eight states, though courts have blocked enforcement in some. Five states — including Arkansas, which expanded its requirements — have passed laws this year alone, according to HuffPost.

Ohio could become the sixth — the bill passed the state Senate last Wednesday and now heads to the House, where Republicans have a majority. The state’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, has signed abortion restrictions in the past, including a ban on the procedure after about six weeks’ gestation, which has been blocked in court.

Abortion “reversal” isn’t backed up by evidence

Abortion opponents and groups identifying as pro-life argue that abortion reversal laws are necessary to make patients aware of their options.

“Women should be given full, informed consent when they are considering an abortion,” Ingrid Skop, the chairman-elect of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), told Vox.

“Because the abortion pill regimen can be reversed,” she said, “they should be given that information.”

But many medical experts say there’s no evidence that progesterone does anything to reverse abortion. In a 2017 statement, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that Delgado’s 2012 paper, involving just a handful of patients, was “not scientific evidence that progesterone resulted in the continuation of those pregnancies.”

As the group noted, mifepristone on its own does not always work to end a pregnancy, with up to half of patients who take mifepristone alone remaining pregnant. That’s why mifepristone is prescribed with misoprostol to complete an abortion. So it’s possible that Delgado’s patients who remained pregnant would have done so regardless of whether they received progesterone.

In 2018, Delgado published another paper, this time looking at the effect of progesterone on 547 patients who took it after taking mifepristone. He found that in 48 percent of cases, the patient went on to have a live birth, with the rate going up to 64 percent if the progesterone was administered by injection.

Critics, however, point out that this paper was not published in a mainstream scientific journal but rather in Issues in Law and Medicine, a journal that has featured anti-abortion legal analysis as well as articles promoting the debunked theory of a link between vaccines and autism, as Rewire.News reports.

And according to Grossman, the design of the research may have inflated the success rate of the treatment. Some providers involved only prescribed progesterone after an ultrasound confirmed that the pregnancy was continuing, meaning that people for whom mifepristone didn’t work well to begin with may be overrepresented in the data.

In addition, Grossman said, it’s not clear from the paper whether patients were informed that the treatment was experimental. Delgado has not responded to Vox’s request for comment, but he told NPR that before his 2018 paper, he told patients that abortion “reversal” was a “novel treatment.” Now, he says, “we have a substantial amount of data. There is no alternative. And it’s been proven to be safe,” so, “why not give it a chance?”

Progesterone is sometimes prescribed during pregnancy for other reasons, like to prevent premature labor in the second and third trimesters, Grossman said. But there’s no data on whether it’s safe to give after mifepristone or to take throughout pregnancy, as “reversal” patients are sometimes advised to do.

“The impact on patients of mifepristone combined with high doses of progesterone is virtually unstudied,” Kathryn Eggleston, medical director of the sole abortion clinic in North Dakota, wrote in an affidavit obtained by HuffPost. Researchers do not know, she said, whether the combination could cause birth defects, for example.

Moreover, as Grossman noted, the prescription of an unproven treatment to pregnant women has disturbing echoes in America’s past. “We know that abortion patients are more likely to be women of color and low-income women,” he said, and these are “populations that have had research performed on them that was clearly unethical.” For example, in the 19th century, Dr. J. Marion Sims conducted gynecological research, including operations without anesthesia, on enslaved women.

However, there are researchers working on a study of abortion “reversal” designed to meet ethical and scientific standards. Mitchell Creinin, an OB-GYN and professor at the University of California Davis, is conducting a controlled study of progesterone treatment that has been approved by an institutional review board, according to NPR. The results should be available next year.

For now, though, abortion providers say laws like the one proposed in Ohio will hamper their ability to ethically care for pregnant people.

“Abortion reversal is unproven, unscientific, and potentially unsafe,” Tam Nickerson-Scott, clinic operations director at Preterm, Ohio’s largest abortion provider, told Vox. “We certainly don’t want to give out false information to our patients.”

Crisis pregnancy centers are offering an unproven treatment to pregnant people

It’s not clear how many people are currently being prescribed abortion reversal in the United States. But Skop, the AAPLOG chair, believes it is “very common” and says that most “pregnancy resource centers” — facilities that offer counseling with an anti-abortion bent, also called crisis pregnancy centers — offer the procedure. Obria, an anti-abortion group with facilities around the country that recently received a federal family planning grant from the Trump administration, advertises the procedure on its website.

It’s also not clear how patients who do get progesterone treatment pay for the medication. Unproven treatments are typically not covered by insurance, Grossman noted. Skop said that patients sometimes pay for progesterone out of pocket and that sometimes pregnancy centers may cover the cost.

Meanwhile, one of the biggest questions around abortion reversal is how many people really want to undo their abortions once they’ve started. Some say the number is significant. “Women do regret their abortions,” said Skop. “I’ve been practicing for 23 years, and I’m also the board chairman of a pregnancy resource center, and we see it frequently.”

However, research shows that most patients are actually quite sure about their decisions to have an abortion. One recent study found that, on average, abortion patients were as or more sure of their decision to have an abortion than people facing other medical procedures, such as knee surgery. Another found that 95 percent of abortion patients did not regret the procedure.

But it’s possible that abortion reversal laws could actually lead to more regretted abortions. In her affidavit, Eggleston, the North Dakota provider, wrote that abortion reversal laws could encourage people to get medication abortions before they are ready to do so, by giving them the mistaken impression that the procedure can be easily reversed if they change their mind.

For Nickerson-Scott, meanwhile, the Ohio bill “just causes more hurdles” in a state where patients already have to go through a 24-hour waiting period and a total of three doctors’ appointments to complete a medication abortion. Instead, Ohio patients deserve “autonomy over their bodies,” she said. “We have to trust people that they are the expert of their lives.”

“I have never heard anyone who has come through our doors and who has told me that they have regretted their abortion,” Nickerson-Scott said. “What I do hear is, ‘Thank you for being here.’”

Source: https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/11/11/20953337/abortion-pill-reversal-ohio-bill-law-pregnancy?fbclid=IwAR1HJTzN80QTE6HgUexahqOY4wTw4pviI0Ju8rYYwCnQxiOkQ7G8VHID_cM