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Protecting the Bill of Rights in Utah since 1958

HB141 is Dumb. But It's Not As Bad As You Think.

29 March 2017 Published in The ACLU of Utah Activist

There is some perhaps unintentionally incorrect information circulating about HB141, the "abortion reversal" bill signed by Governor Herbert on March 25.Screen Shot 2017 03 29 at 2.32.16 PM

It is not true that this legislation "requires doctors to inform women that medication-induced abortions can be halted." We know this because our lobbyists and partners worked very hard to ensure that doctors' speech would not be compelled by this legislation.

Over the course of the 2017 session, HB141 was altered from its original form, which DID compel doctors in specific speech. The final version reflected post-litigation language from Arizona, where the ACLU and others sued the state over a law that was similar to the ORIGINAL version of HB141.

The version of HB141 enacted into law says that doctors must inform women of "the options and consequences of aborting a medication-induced abortion," but does not specify that a doctor must say that a medication-induced abortion can be reversed.

The law also requires that the Utah Department of Health include in its published material about medication-induced abortion this phrase:"Research indicates that mifepristone alone is not always effective in ending a pregnancy. You may still have a viable pregnancy after taking mifepristone. If you have taken mifepristone but have not yet taken the second drug and have questions regarding the health of your fetus or are questioning your decision to terminate your pregnancy, you should consult a physician immediately.”

That last phrase - “you should consult a physician immediately” - means that despite what is suggested about mifepristone in this literature, women are ultimately encouraged to contact their doctors directly for the most medically accurate information. When women contact their doctors, those doctors are not compelled to supply medically-inaccurate information about the “reversibility” of a medication-induced abortion.

The ACLU of Utah doesn't like this bill. We don't like that the Utah Department of Health is being forced to suggest questionable information into its printed materials on medication-induced abortion. We don’t like that such language is now codified in state statute. But we worked hard during the legislative session to ensure that this bill would not compromise the actual conversations that take place between a doctor and client when discussion abortion options.