Federal Judge Blocks Colorado’s Abortion Drug Reversal Ban
A federal judge is blocking the Centennial State’s unconstitutional ban on abortion drug reversals. U.S. District Court judge Daniel Domenico issued an order on Saturday halting Colorado’s ban on performing abortion drug reversal procedures, citing religious freedom concerns.
Domenico wrote, “The law at issue here runs afoul of these First Amendment principles. And because it does, the State must come forward with a compelling interest of the highest order to maintain the law. It has not even attempted to do so.” Domenico further noted that “the State generally cannot regulate an activity if that regulation burdens religious exercise… and otherwise targets religious activity.”
State Bill 23-190 was signed into law in April by Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) and went into effect immediately. The law purports to focus on “deceptive actions regarding pregnancy-related services” and stipulates, “A health-care provider engages in unprofessional conduct or is subject to discipline in this state if the health-care provider provides, prescribes, administers, or attempts medication abortion reversal in this state…” The law was blocked after Bella Health and Wellness, a Catholic health care clinic performing abortion drug reversals, sued the state. Saturday’s injunction allows Bella Health and Wellness to continue performing abortion drug reversals but does not apply to the entire state.
Arielle Del Turco, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, commented to The Washington Stand, “When Catholics or others are motivated by their faith to help women take life-saving measures for their unborn children, no government has any business prohibiting that.”
She explained, “According to U.S. law, in order to ‘substantially burden’ a person’s exercise of religion, the government must demonstrate that they have a compelling interest to do so. Colorado would be hard-pressed to come up with a compelling interest to prevent women who want to reverse their chemical abortion from doing so. The process of undergoing a chemical abortion alone and at home is risky, physically painful, and often emotionally traumatic. By blocking a woman’s ability to obtain abortion pill reversal treatments, the state of Colorado seems to want women to undergo forced abortions in their own homes. It is absolutely appalling, and it shows complete disregard for women who desire to keep their baby after taking the first pill in a chemical abortion.”
In a statement released by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Bella co-foundresses Dede Chism and Abby Sinnett said of the judge’s decision, “Some of these women have had abortion pills forced on them, and others change their minds. We are relieved and overjoyed to continue helping the many women who come to our clinic seeking help.”
Mary Szoch, director of FRC’s Center for Human Dignity, told TWS, “The federal judge’s move to block Colorado’s abortion pill reversal ban is a huge win for all Americans. We know that pregnant mothers who are facing an unexpected pregnancy are under immense pressure. Often, I’m sure, these women are afraid, and fear causes people to make rash decisions.” She continued, “A prescription of progesterone has the potential to give a pregnant mom a second chance to choose life for her unborn child. How beautiful! Instead of years of heartache and regret, that mom may have the opportunity to experience the joy and delight of her child.”
Szoch explained, “While every abortion is tragic because it takes the life of the unborn child, the use of the abortion drug, mifepristone, is especially horrendous because of the dangers it poses for the unborn child’s mother as well.” According to Szoch, mifepristone’s side effects include hemorrhage, infection, retained fetal body parts, and death, “making the drug lethal for unborn children and four times as dangerous for mothers as the already dangerous surgical abortions.”
She continued, “Moreover, the psychological impact of the abortion drug, mifepristone, cannot be overstated. Planned Parenthood advertises the use of this drug for up to 11 weeks — a point at which the baby already has clearly recognizable hands, feet, fingers, toes, and a head. While the abortion industry wants to make mothers think they will simply have a heavy period, countless mothers are horrified to find that they have just delivered their dead baby into the toilet.”
Szoch further noted, “The abortion industry has twisted the sacred relationship between a mother and her child and has made the mother, who ingests the pills on her own, into the abortionist. The mother is left all alone as she lives through this terror.”
Organizations like Bella Health and Wellness offer mothers a chance to reverse the mifepristone process and avoid that terror. One mother who went to Bella Health and Wellness seeking an abortion drug reversal shared, “After I took the first pill, I was feeling devastated. I didn’t want to do it, I never wanted to do it, from the moment I found out about my baby.” After taking mifepristone, a pregnant mother has only about 24 to 48 hours to seek a reversal before the drug “starves the child to death,” according to Szoch. Bella Health and Wellness medical director Dr. Sarah Hodack explained that the early effects of mifepristone are counteracted by extra doses of the hormone progesterone.
Thanks to Bella Health and Wellness, that mother’s baby was saved. She shared, “The baby was alive. And the ultrasound machine was on, where I could hear the baby’s beautiful heartbeat, strong and steady and amazing, and once I heard that, there was no going back.” The baby saved by Bella Health and Wellness is now not only alive but “thriving,” according to the mother, and succeeding in school. She stated, “Any mom that’s in this situation, I want you to know that you are loved, that your baby’s loved, and that you can do this.”
Domenico noted in his ruling that Catholics “consider… it a religious obligation to provide treatment for pregnant mothers and to protect unborn life if the mother seeks to stop or reverse an abortion.” He added that the law does not attempt to regulate all uses of progesterone, only the use of progesterone in an abortion drug reversal.
The judge further stated that he believed the state legislature, when passing the law, was aware “that the burden of this prohibition would primarily fall on religious adherents.” He declared, “[T]he State has not carried its burden to show that it has narrowly tailored its restrictions to an interest sufficiently compelling to justify an infringement on Plaintiffs’ Free Exercise rights.” Colorado has until November 20 to appeal the preliminary injunction.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.