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Colorado medical boards consider draft rule on abortion reversal treatment

Draft rule under consideration would not ban the controversial treatment or consider it unprofessional conduct
Image of pregnant woman touching her belly with hands
Posted at 5:09 PM, Aug 05, 2023

DENVER — Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers approved a law banning abortion reversal treatment.

But doctors and other medical professionals who provide such treatment wouldn’t necessarily be punished for unprofessional conduct if a draft rule under consideration is adopted by the state’s medical boards.

Abortion reversal treatment wouldn’t be treated as a per se act of unprofessional conduct, according to the draft rule.

Abortion reversal treatment, also known as medication abortion reversal, is highly controversial.

Maureen West with the Boulder Pregnancy Resource Center told Denver7 it can save a pregnancy if a woman who has started abortion medication suddenly changes her mind.

“Certainly, there's going to be a number of women who decide, ‘Oh, you know, what, that's not what I want to do. I don't want to have an abortion, I want to see if I can, you know, carry through with this pregnancy,’” said West.

Pro-life medical organizations, such as the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and many pregnancy resource centers, say abortion reversal treatment is safe.

But groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say it’s based on junk science.

Tash Berwick, the political director for New Era Colorado, says the treatment should be banned.

Colorado medical boards consider draft rule on abortion reversal treatment

“There's no evidence or science that backs these claims up,” said Berwick.

A majority of Colorado lawmakers agreed, passing Senate Bill 23-190 in the spring.

Gov. Jared Polis signed it into law in April.

It made it a deceptive trade practice for clinics to advertise services they don’t actually offer, like abortions or emergency contraceptives.

It also says healthcare providers who provide abortion reversal treatment would be engaged in unprofessional conduct or subject to discipline unless the Colorado medical board, the state board of pharmacy, and the state board of nursing decide the treatment is an accepted standard of practice.

None of the boards have done that.

But a new draft rule they’re considering wouldn’t automatically punish medical workers who provide such treatment.

Instead, the boards would decide on a “case-by-case” basis.

“The Board will not treat medication abortion reversal as a per se act of unprofessional conduct. Rather, the Board will investigate all complaints related to medication abortion reversal in the same manner that it investigates other alleged deviations from generally accepted standards of medical practice,” the draft rules states.

Berwick says lawmakers intended for the practice to be banned.

“I think we want the boards to come to the same conclusion that the legislature, as well as advocates, came to when we first wrote the bill, that abortion pill reversal should not be considered a generally accepted standard of medical practice,” said Berwick.

“As one of the sponsors of SB23-190, my goal always is and will continue to be to protect patients from false information and make sure we provide people with safe and transparent reproductive healthcare choices. ‘Medication abortion pill reversal’ is purposefully misleading," said State Senator Faith Winter, one of the sponsors of SB 190. "I am disappointed by the draft rules and the lack of protection for all the people in and coming to Colorado to receive essential health care.”

The boards got public feedback on the draft rule on Friday and have until October 1 to decide whether abortion reversal treatment is generally accepted standard of practice.

Lawmakers who spoke at the feedback hearing on Friday said if the boards don't make a determination, state law would still ban the treatment.

"My message to the board members is this: You didn't do the homework we assigned you," said State Rep. Karen McCormick. "I urge you to reread our instructions set forth in SB23-190 if you want a passing grade on this."

Over the next couple of months, all three boards will hold rulemaking hearings, starting with the Colorado Medical Board on Aug. 17.

To attend the hearing virtually, register by visiting this site.

Members of the public can also submit written comments to: dora_dpo_rulemaking@state.co.us.

To read comments that have been submitted so far visit https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oi8J-Uge0IWQto3yqLdoFqcDL2RCTzJp/view


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