North Dakota State Representative Dan Johnston (R – District 24) had a pretty darn good 2019 Legislative Session. Undoubtedly, his most controversial piece of legislation came in the form of House Bill 1336— otherwise known as the “Abortion Reversal Bill”. But despite the typical pro-choice opposition, it sailed through both the House and Senate on its way to being signed into law by Governor Doug Burgum.
The bill was actually fairly simple. It added two sections to North Dakota’s existing “informed consent” laws by mandating that women seeking termination of a pregnancy by an “abortion-inducing drug” be made aware that it’s possible to reverse its effects.
According to verbiage of HB 1336, a physician, referring physician, or physician’s agent must inform women “at least twenty-four hours before the abortion”:
“That it may be possible to reverse the effects of an abortion-inducing drug if she changes her mind, but time is of the essence, and information and assistance with reversing the effects of an abortion inducing drug are available in the printed materials given to her…” (Emphasis Added)
Notice that I stressed the phrase “may be possible”. Not once did advocates of HB 1336 ever indicate that the process to reverse the effects of an abortion-inducing drug were guaranteed to work. In fact, as you’ll see in these comments during floor debate by Rep. Rick Becker (R – District 7) — who also happens to be a board certified physician — he points this out. While at the same time, Becker also illustrates — with information given to legislators by those who opposed the bill — that the percentage of pregnancies saved by attempting a reversal is “statistically significant”.
After he signed HB 1336 into law, Governor Burgum said:
“If it gives hope to even one person who has started the process and wants to try to reverse it, it is worth providing that information.”
Considering the totality of the situation, I think he’s right. But as expected, North Dakota’s lone abortion clinic doesn’t see it that way, which resulted in their filing a lawsuit yesterday in U.S. District Court. The move was expected.
In response to a request for comment, Rep. Dan Johnston told The Minuteman:
“It is unfortunate that the clinic and the abortion lobby want to deny women the right to know about the possibility of abortion drug reversal.”
Back in January, the Director of Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, Tammi Kromenaker, made her feelings clear on the issue:
“North Dakota politicians are once again intruding into the doctor-patient relationship rather than looking out for the well being of North Dakota women. Legislating a speculative medical theory is a really bad idea and would not be given serious consideration for any other type of medical care.”
What’s baffling about Kromenaker’s comments is her idea that an abortion reversal is “speculative medical theory”. How can she claim such a thing when hundreds of babies have been born after following protocol for a reversal— including this one in North Dakota? And let’s not forget that for over 60 years doctors have been utilizing shots of progesterone — which is what’s used in the reversals — as a means of attempting the prevention of miscarriages. You can see former abortion doctor and current pro-life advocate, Dr. Anthony Levantino, explain how the reversal works here:
According to The Forum, Kromenaker said yesterday:
“North Dakota’s laws are forcing us to say things that violate our medical ethics and will soon force us to say things that are simply false and not backed up by science.”
Again, how much more scientific can you get than babies that are born alive after a reversal is done? Not to mention the fact that the medical field is filled with examples of medications and procedures that require physicians to inform their patients of possible side effects. So, let’s not pretend this is anything new when we’re talking about possibilities, not guarantees.
Interestingly enough, it appears that the Red River Women’s Clinic and their partner in the lawsuit — the American Medical Association — will be arguing their position on the basis of the law being a violation of their First Amendment rights. They view the move by the North Dakota Legislature and Governor Doug Burgum to be “compelled speech”. So, in reality, are they playing this as more of a Free Speech case than an abortion case? It seems so. Which may actually indicate how weak their arguments are on the abortion side of things.
In addition, the reversal isn’t the only part of the informed consent law that they’re challenging. There’s an existing part of the statute that requires physicians to inform women that an abortion will “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” The plaintiffs have a problem with that too.
Challenging this aspect of the law is also odd when we consider that it’s an accepted medical reality that upon conception all the genetic information (i.e. DNA) is in place that forms a “whole, separate, unique, living human being.” And to top it off, South Dakota had a law with the same verbiage that was challenged in 2008. But the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld it (Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota v. Rounds, 8th Cir. U.S. Court of Appeals Case No: 05-3093).
I won’t pretend to know how this will play out in the courts. What I do know is that Kromenaker and her buddies in the industry are about as concerned about “the well being of North Dakota women” as they are for the unborn. And considering the nature of their profession, I think you can guess how much concern that is.
The plaintiffs in this case are out to do one thing — and one thing only — to protect their industry and nothing more.