Telling the Truth About Abortion Politics

Sens. Yee and Barto asked. We answered. It’s Our Turn to share the truth behind abortion politics. We have submitted the following op-ed to the Arizona Republic, but they have not (yet?) published it.

Thank You PP croppedAs a medical professional, I am dismayed at the recent “Our Turn” published in the Arizona Republic titled, “Make doctors tell the truth on abortion drug.” I would like to do just that — tell the truth and correct the record, because the opinion by legislators Barto and Yee was laden with revisionist history, misstatements of legal fact, and most important, non-medical junk science.

Doctors practice up-to-date, evidence-based medicine. I appreciate lawmakers repealing their intrusive foray into the practice of medicine, SB 1324. This law attempted to mandate how doctors dispense abortion medication according to an outdated, 16-year-old protocol contained in the original drug label. SB 1324 was an attempt to re-start a legal case that Arizona was losing. Despite the FDA’s update of the drug label to reflect current medical practice, policymakers and the governor stubbornly insisted on enacting SB 1324. Why, I cannot imagine. The repeal of this legislation was certainly welcome.

Real doctors reject junk science. More disturbing than the FDA label issue is Sens. Yee and Barto’s assertion that “at least 170 healthy babies have been born when medication abortions were reversed.” There is no scientific support for this assertion, just as there is no peer-reviewed medical evidence for the whole notion of “abortion reversal.” A handful of doctors with a moral agenda have attempted to use progesterone to “stop” a medication abortion. However, there is nothing in the literature to justify this practice, save for one report of six informal clinical anecdotes. No significant sample size, no control group, no oversight, no peer review. Regardless, last year these same legislators passed SB 1318, violating physicians’ and patients’ constitutional rights by forcing physicians to inform their patients that it is possible to reverse a medication abortion, which is untrue. Continue reading

The Imaginarium of Doctor Delgado: The Make-Believe Medicine Behind SB 1318

pillDr. George Delgado, a gynecologist based in San Diego, is probably not likely to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine any time soon — or ever. Delgado’s dubious medical claims have been one of the driving forces behind a piece of legislation, Arizona Senate Bill 1318, that pushes what physician and state Rep. Randall Friese calls “fringe medicine.”

Delgado runs a website called Abortion Pill Reversal, offering 24-hour medical advice to women who have taken the abortion drug mifepristone and regret their decision. “There is an effective process for reversing the abortion pill, called ABORTION PILL REVERSAL, so call today!” the website cheers. Most people have probably never heard that a medication abortion — that is, an abortion performed by administering two pills — can be reversed. If this medical breakthrough sounds new, it’s because it doesn’t exist — at least not within any kind of evidence-based, established medical practice.


So-called abortion reversal is untested for safety or effectiveness.


Unsafe abortions have always been the consequence of the anti-abortion movement. Now unsafe abortion reversals can likely be added to that, thanks to the procedure Delgado has performed and promoted — in spite of scant evidence of its safety and effectiveness. In the two-step process of a medication abortion, a provider first administers a dose of mifepristone and then follows it with a dose of misoprostol. Delgado claims he can intervene in a medication abortion so that the patient’s pregnancy can continue. If patients change their minds after the first step, Delgado claims, they can counteract the initial drug with a dose of progesterone.

For published medical literature, Delgado can claim a 2012 article he co-wrote in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy. The article describes six abortion reversal patients, four of whom, he claims, remained pregnant. Though published in a legitimate medical journal, Delgado’s findings were from a small sample of patients, none of whom were compared in a controlled study to patients who did not undergo the progesterone treatment. Moreover, not everything that’s published in medical journals is well received by the medical community. Dr. David A. Grimes, a physician formerly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calls the article “an incompletely documented collection of anecdotes.” Continue reading

Senate Bill 1318: It’s Not Just a Bill

The following post comes to us via Brittany Frew, who is (almost) a graduate of Arizona State University with a degree in marketing. She hopes to go into either advertising or health care, but mostly just hopes to get a job. Tweet @brittanyfrew with your comments!

Schoolhouse RockIn the aftermath of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1318, similar legislation is popping up all over the country. In Texas, SB 575 would prohibit the federal exchange and private health insurance from covering elective abortion. Arkansas recently passed HB 1578, which makes them the second state to require doctors to tell their patients that medication abortions can be reversed — a claim that isn’t based in scientific evidence. With a trend of attacks on the freedom of women nationwide, it’s important to be active in your state legislature.


Legislative hearings are the perfect opportunity to voice your opinions.


When I walked into the Arizona Capitol for a committee hearing on SB 1318, I thought I knew what I was in for. I mean, I’ve seen that Schoolhouse Rock! video, I know how laws work. I’m going to sit for a few minutes, the vote will be unanimous, and the bill and I will be on our merry way. However, much like one realizes that most of childhood was a lie, I realized that the beloved classic did not paint an accurate picture. Continue reading

Call the Governor 602-542-4331 to VETO 1318!

After a gallant fight, SB 1318 passed the Senate on final read yesterday afternoon 18-11. The fight is NOT OVER!

The message now is simple:

CALL THE GOVERNOR at 602-542-4331 and ask him to VETO SB 1318. It’s bad medicine for Arizona. #STOP1318 #AZBackward #reprojustice

Please encourage your personal network friends, family, and other contacts to make one call: 602-542-4331 to VETO 1318.

Thank you for making your voice heard!

28 Bills Later: Cathi Herrod’s Horror Show Continues with SB 1318

Gynotician Meme

Image adapted from flazingo.com

In February, Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix), introduced SB 1318 in the Senate. It is a harmful bill barring abortion services from coverage in Arizona’s health care exchange. SB 1318 is the latest in a long series of legislative attacks on reproductive rights in Arizona — the 28th abortion restriction to be introduced since 2009, according to Dr. Eric Reuss of the American Congress of Obstetrics & Gynecology (Arizona Section), who wrote an editorial for The Arizona Republic expressing his and other doctors’ opposition to the bill.


Ask your senator to vote NO on SB 1318!


A wealth of bad ideas was necessary to produce more than two dozen anti-abortion bills, and this newest bill is the product of some of the worst of those ideas so far. For starters, SB 1318 takes on a problem that is all myth and no reality. The idea behind the bill is to keep people who are opposed to abortion from having to fund it — and, in the process, save them money. But the Affordable Care Act included a payment system to ensure that taxpayer funding of abortion wouldn’t happen. When The Arizona Republic checked Sen. Barto’s claim that “Taxpayers are on the hook for elective abortions,” the paper found the statement unsupported. As the Republic summarized, “Federal law already prevents insurance companies from using tax credits and subsidies to cover elective abortions. And federal funds are not allowed to be used to fund abortions with three exceptions — rape, incest or when the life of the mother is threatened.” Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • notorious-rbgA force to be reckoned with for sure … RBG is definitely the woman of the hour these days. (Slate Double X)
  • Rabidly conservative, forced-birth advocate, and noted homophobe Cathi Herrod continues to wreak havoc on the state of Arizona with SB 1318. (Phoenix New Times)
  • And somehow, SB 1318 has been amended to be even more sucktacular. Ever heard of “reversing” a medication abortion? No one with medical knowledge has, but Repubs just don’t care! (RH Reality Check)
  • AZ state Rep. Victoria Steele bravely came forward as a survivor of sexual assault in order to fight SB 1318. To say we salute her and are grateful for her advocacy would be a huge understatement. (Tucson Weekly)
  • You’d think a bill helping to combat the evil that is human sex trafficking would be a cut-and-dry piece of legislation that both parties could get behind, right? Well, when Republicans are in charge of the legislation, you can bet anti-abortion tomfoolery will ensue. Goal? Make life harder for sex trafficking victims who get pregnant and prefer not to have their rapists’ babies. (HuffPo)
  • And Jon Stewart (rightfully) has some choice words for the Dems who supported the bill without reading it. (The Daily Show)
  • Oh look, another Republican weasel (Nebraska state Rep. Justin Harris) who wants to all but ensure that rape victims end up giving birth against their will. And not just any rape victims … underage ones. (RH Reality Check)
  • Whoa. Canada can teach us a thing or two about age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education! (HuffPo Canada)

ACT TODAY! SB 1318 Is on the HOUSE FLOOR TODAY!

The Trouble with SB 1318

BREAKING: FACT-CHECK on 1318

fact check thumbnailSB 1318 passed the Arizona House Rules committee this afternoon and is headed to the House floor later this week — NOW IS THE TIME to STOP 1318. SB 1318 is too extreme and relies on illegitimate science to prop up an extreme and messy bill. #STOP1318 and contact your 2 Representatives and ask they vote NO when it gets to the floor.

  1. No taxpayer money is used in Arizona to fund abortion. NONE. No taxpayer funds are used at the federal level either since laws exist explicitly averting public funds for paying for abortion. Proponents claim to protect the taxpayer from erroneously paying for an abortion — instead Arizona taxpayers will be on the hook not only for court cases and lawyer fees, but for numerous medical malpractice suits for compelling doctors to misinform patients. SB 1318 is a bad bill.
  1. SB 1318 does NOT redact doctors’ private information from public documents when doctors lawfully comply with ADHS regulations. Under public records laws, doctors’ private information is made public. Doctors should NOT be targeted simply because of the care they provide and SB 1318 targets doctors, plain and simple.
  1. Complete with an amendment that compels doctors to “inform” patients that their medical abortion may be reversed if they change their mind, but SB 1318 relies on illegitimate science. Although medically unsubstantiated, Arizona providers will now be forced by the state to potentially commit medical malpractice by having to misinform patients.
  1. While SB 1318 does have an exception for survivors of rape and incest, the bill does not outline how doctors or insurance adjusters go about determining if an individual was in fact a victim of such a crime. The vagueness of the bill forces doctors and insurance companies to be de facto police detectives to determine if a pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. This is too extreme — even in Arizona.

SB 1318 targets doctors for the care they provide, relies on illegitimate science, and is too extreme. #STOP1318 and contact your 2 Representatives and ask they vote NO when it gets to the floor.