On Tuesday, a federal judge in North Dakota temporarily blocked a GOP-sponsored abortion “counseling” law that forces doctors to lie to their patients.
Judge Daniel Hovland, an appointee of President George W. Bush and the Chief Judge for the District of North Dakota, declared that the law is likely unconstitutional and will not survive scrutiny by a higher court.
The law would have mandated that doctors tell patients, among other things, that abortions can be “reversed” halfway through if a woman changes her mind.
“Legislation which forces physicians to tell their patients, as part of informed consent, that ‘it may be possible’ to reverse or cure an ailment, disease, illness, surgical procedure, or the effects of any medication — in the absence of any medical or scientific evidence to support such a message — is unsound, misplaced, and would not survive a constitutional challenge under any level of scrutiny,” wrote Hovland.
Medication abortions are typically performed in two stages: a dose of mifepristone, which blocks the synthesis of the hormone progesterone, followed within 48 hours by a dose of misoprostol, which causes the uterus to evacuate. Anti-abortion activists have pushed the idea that women on this regimen can “reverse” the abortion by skipping the misoprostol and instead taking a gigantic dose of progesterone.
There is no medical research whatsoever to support the idea that this is effective or safe — and in any case, contrary to the entire premise that there is an epidemic of women regretting their abortions and wanting to undo them, studies have shown that 95 percent of women who have abortions are confident in their decision.
This year, buoyed by the appointment of a number of new right-wing judges to the federal courts, Republicans in statehouses around the country are pushing increasingly aggressive anti-abortion laws, including near-total bans in some states. So far, federal judges are broadly still finding these laws invalid, voiding them in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio.