Judge sides with Catholic clinic against Colorado law banning abortion pill reversal

‘We are relieved and overjoyed to continue helping the many women who come to our clinic seeking help.’

By Calvin Freiburger

For the time being, Colorado must allow a pro-life Catholic clinic to offer patients a method of reversing the effects of abortion pills before they kill a developing child, U.S. District Judge Daniel Domenico ruled over the weekend.

Domenico granted a preliminary injunction against enforcement of a Colorado law prohibiting Abortion Pill Reversal (APR), a method of counteracting the abortion pill mifepristone (better known as RU-486) by administering extra progesterone, the natural hormone mifepristone blocks, ideally within 24 hours of taking the abortion pill.

In April, Democrat Gov. Jared Polis signed into law SB23-190, which declares that a “health-care provider engages in unprofessional conduct or is subject to discipline in this state if the health-care provider provides, prescribes, administers, or attempts medication abortion reversal in this state.”

The law was slated to go into effect this month. But represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Catholic health clinic Bella Health & Wellness filed a lawsuit challenging it, arguing that it targets providers acting on a religious conviction to serve pregnant women who change their minds about abortion, under penalty of crushing fines of as much as $20,000 per violation as well as risking their staff’s medical licenses.

Now, while the legal arguments about the merits of SB 23-190 are unresolved, the state cannot enforce it until they are.  

Domenico determined that the law was likely unconstitutional under the First Amendment, because the state “generally cannot regulate an activity if that regulation burdens religious exercise” and “targets religious activity.” He added that the state would need to demonstrate a “compelling interest of the highest order to maintain the law” but “has not even attempted to do so.”

“There is no question whether Section Three [of the law] burdens Bella Health’s free exercise of religion,” he wrote.

“Colorado is trying to make outlaws of doctors and nurses providing life-saving and compassionate care to women they serve,” said Becket attorney Rebekah Ricketts. “This ruling ensures that pregnant women across the state will receive the care they deserve and won’t be forced to have abortions against their will.”  

“Some of these women have had abortion pills forced on them, and others change their minds,” said Bella cofounders Dede Chism and Abby Sinnett. “We are relieved and overjoyed to continue helping the many women who come to our clinic seeking help.”  

Detractors claim that APR is harmful and unproven, but as pro-life OB/GYN Dr. William Lile has explained, the technique is based on principles that are well understood from progesterone’s common, FDA-approved use in a variety of other pregnancy-related situations. According to the Abortion Pill Rescue Network (APRN), “initial studies of APR have shown it has a 64-68% success rate.” Heartbeat International also publishes firsthand testimonials from women who have benefited from the technique.

This summer, the academic journal Scientific Reports published a study by Franciscan University of Steubenville neuroscientist Dr. Stephen Sammut that found “progesterone, administered shortly after mifepristone, reversed the effects of mifepristone (i.e., reversed the abortion) with living fetuses present at the end of gestation in 81 percent of cases,” after months of being challenged and rejected by other publications.

“All major studies show that using progesterone to counteract a chemical abortion (Abortion Pill Reversal) can be effective since it’s the very same hormone a woman’s body produces to sustain her pregnancy,” says Heartbeat International. “One study even shows an effective rate of 80 percent. Progesterone has been safely used with pregnant women and their babies since the 1950s. To date, statistics show more than 4,500 women have had successful abortion pill reversals and that number grows higher each day.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Life Site News and reposted with permission.