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GOP-heavy panel backs abortion-reversal bill, saying intent is 'informed consent'

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SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, insists that his bill requiring doctors to tell their patients that drug-induced abortion can be reversed midway through the process is neither anti-abortion nor pro-abortion rights.

Stratton's HB141 would require doctors to tell their patients about the process of a chemical abortion, as well as the odds of its success and the potential for a chemical reversal before the process is complete.

He described his bill as an "informed consent" measure to make pregnant women aware of how chemical abortions work and to help them understand their options for reversing the procedure.

Teresa Durbin, an OB-GYN from Layton, described the process of a drug-induced abortion. Durbin said the two-step process starts with a dose of mifepristone, followed two days later by a secondary drug to complete the process.

Only 15 percent of embryos would be alive after the first drug, she said.

A timely use of progesterone could raise the viability of the embryo by 65 to 70 percent, Durbin said, somewhat reversing the effect of the abortion procedure.

"The patient needs to be made aware of the possibility of reversal," she said.

Durbin added that the timeliness of the reversal would be important.

"There is no better way to disrespect a woman than to withhold information about available options," said Maryann Christensen, of the Utah Eagle Forum.

Miriam Merrill, an intern with Family Policy Resource, urged support for the bill, saying 79 percent of women receiving abortions are not informed of alternatives, and 44 percent say they're still hoping for an alternative even as they received their abortion.

"A lot of the concern deals with the notion of whether you support the principles in pro-life or pro-choice, but many of those issues are not germane to this bill," Stratton said.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, echoed Stratton's statements, saying the issue is not about stances on abortion.

Weiler said it would be helpful to hear testimony as to why women should not receive "informed consent."

Marina Lowe, of the ACLU, said she worked with Stratton to improve the language in the bill, which originally featured language that had been challenged in a similar proposal in Arizona.

Lowe said the bill's legal footing improved with Stratton's amendments.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 2-1 in favor of moving the bill to the Senate floor.

Senate Assistant Minority Whip Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, the lone woman on the committee, cast the dissenting vote. Four other lawmakers — three Republicans and one Democrat, and all men — were absent from the committee vote. Email:

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