Colorado Won’t Enforce Ban on Abortion Pill Reversal Procedure, For Now

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 21, 2023   |   5:42PM   |   Denver, Colorado

Colorado has decided not to enforce a ban on the aboriton pill reversal procedure, at least for now.

Earlier this week, a federal court narrowly blocked a Colorado law that censors pro-life pregnancy centers and prevents them from offering the abortion pill reversal method to save babies from abortions after a mother has taken the dangerous abortion pill.

A Catholic pro-life medical provider sued Colorado for banning the life-saving abortion pill reversal treatment.

The lawsuit from Bella Health and Wellness, a Catholic OB-GYN and family medical practice based in Englewood, challenges a pro-abortion law that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed last week, saying medical providers could be fined $20,000 just for trying to save an unborn baby’s life. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing the organization.

SB23-190 says Colorado healthcare providers would be engaged in “unprofessional conduct” and be “subject to discipline” if they prescribe, administer, or attempt medication abortion reversal. That means Bella and other Colorado pregnancy centers are at risk from providing medical care for women to help save their baby.

But now, Colorado will put the law on hold:

Colorado is promising not to enforce its new ban on unproven treatments to reverse medication abortions until state regulators go through a process to determine if they should be allowed.

In court filings Thursday responding to U.S. District Daniel Domenico’s temporary restraining order, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser revealed that the state’s medical and nursing boards had met behind closed doors this week and voted not to enforce the ban until they conduct a rulemaking process on the treatments. That will not be completed until September, he said. In the meantime, Bella Health will not face any enforcement of the ban and therefore does not have grounds to challenge the law, he said.

Domenico is scheduled to hold a hearing Monday to consider whether he should extend the ban on enforcement of the law against the clinic, Bella Health & Wellness.

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Rebekah Ricketts, an attorney at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty representing the clinic, said Friday it and the women it serves need protection from the law, which she said was unconstitutional.

“The Attorney General is now running scared because the Colorado legislature decided to shoot first and ask questions later,” Ricketts said in a statement.

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Domenico issued the temporary restraining order that stops the state fro enforcing the law against Bella.

“The plaintiffs thus face discipline such as fines or potential loss of their medical licenses if they continue to provide such services, which to them is a religious obligation,” the temporary restraining order states.

The ruling only applies to Bella, which means every other pregnancy center in the state will also need to take legal action to protect themselves from the onerous new law.

The pro-life medical clinic aruged the Colorado law violates its free speech and religious rights and the rights of its patients.

“Even though Bella can offer the hormone [progesterone] to women in any other circumstance, including natural miscarriage, it is barred from doing so if the purpose is to reverse the effects of the abortion pill,” the pro-life medical group said in a statement. “This forces pro-life clinics to choose between their deeply held religious beliefs and their ability to operate as healthcare ministries in the state.”

Pro-abortion state lawmakers claimed the law is needed to prohibit “deceptive practices at anti-abortion centers,” but Senate Bill 190 actually censors pregnancy resource centers and bans the life-saving abortion pill reversal treatment. The new law claims the treatment is “unprofessional conduct” even though studies show it is safe and effective and at least 4,000 babies’ lives have been saved.

Those who violate the law could be fined up to $20,000 per offense and medical professionals could lose their licenses.

In their lawsuit, Bella Health argues that the law violates the First Amendment by targeting pro-life and religious medical providers, the Denver Catholic reports.

“We opened Bella because of our belief that life is a precious gift from God, worthy of protection at all stages,” said Dede Chism, a nurse practitioner and co-founder of the pro-life clinic. “When a woman seeks our help to reverse the effects of the abortion pill, we have a religious obligation to offer every available option for her and her child.”

Chism began the medical clinic with her daughter to provide life-affirming healthcare to men, women and children.

Its OB-GYNs offer women progesterone, a naturally occurring hormone that is essential for a healthy pregnancy, to women at risk of miscarriage. They also offer it to pregnant mothers who have taken the first abortion pill, mifepristone, but quickly regret it. Mifepristone works by blocking progesterone and basically starving the unborn baby to death. Much like miscarriage prevention treatments, the abortion pill reversal involves giving women progesterone to counteract the abortion drug and save her baby’s life.

One study found that nearly 70 percent of women who underwent the treatment were able to reverse the effects of the abortion drug and save their babies’ lives. The study did not find any increased risks of complications or birth defects.

Chism’s daughter, Abby Sinnett, who also is a nurse practitioner, said the law prevents them from helping pregnant mothers who want to save their unborn babies’ lives.

“All we want is to continue our ministry of serving expecting mothers in need, regardless of circumstance,” Sinnett said. “In their most vulnerable state, a pregnant woman needs to know that she and her unborn child will be treated with the utmost dignity and care.”

In a statement, the Catholic bishops in Colorado thanked Bella and the Becket law firm for taking action against the new pro-abortion law.

“The Colorado bishops applaud and support this legal effort by Becket and Bella, which affirms the First Amendment rights of pregnancy centers and the ability of medical providers to freely prescribe [the abortion pill reversal] treatment as a life-affirming option for women in Colorado,” the bishops said.

According to the Catholic News Agency, the Catholic bishops also spoke out against the legislation before it passed. They criticized lawmakers for prioritizing “abortion over life-affirming reproductive healthcare decisions for women, at the expense of the mother’s health and, even more grave, at the cost of countless children’s lives.”

The bishops told Catholic lawmakers who supported the pro-abortion legislation that they must repent before participating in Communion.

Anyone who has taken the first abortion pill and wishes to stop the abortion is urged to immediately visit or call the Abortion Pill Reversal hotline at 877-558-0333.