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Opinion: Here’s why a Colorado court sided with Catholic pregnancy centers on abortion reversal - The Denver Post

Author: The Denver Post

Source: https://www.denverpost.com/2023/10/30/colorado-abortion-reversal-court-ruling-senate-bill-190-injunction/

Image of Opinion: Here’s why a Colorado court sided with Catholic pregnancy centers on abortion reversal - The Denver Post

“The law at issue here runs afoul of … First Amendment principles,” U.S.District Court Judge Daniel Domenico wrote in this week’s decision.“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.”Six months ago I predicted Senate Bill 23-190, which restricts constitutionally protected practice and speech, would be struck down.The law bans medical professionals from providing women abortion pill reversal care and prevents clinics and crisis pregnancy centers from informing women about their services.Domenico’s ruling is a temporary injunction against state enforcement of the law against plaintiffs and those acting in concert with them while the full case is being decided in federal court. For the reasons stated in Domenico’s 45-page decision, I now predict that the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail in asserting their rights to provide information and medical care to the women they serve.Until the passage of Senate Bill 190, a woman who had taken the first of two abortion pills, mifepristone, but not the second, misoprostol, could seek abortion pill reversal treatment if she changed her mind and wanted to continue her pregnancy.Mifepristone blocks progesterone from being absorbed causing the uterine lining that provides oxygen and nutrition to the baby to deteriorate.The second drug causes contractions and miscarriage.A dose of progesterone can block the effect of mifepristone.Progesterone is a natural hormone routinely prescribed for women at risk of miscarriage or early delivery, women experiencing infertility, and women on hormone replacement.I take it daily.Several studies show that taking progesterone after the first abortion pill in place of the second pill is twice as effective at preserving pregnancy than simply not taking the second pill and hoping for the best. In fact, the latter alternative poses a risk of health complications for the mother.Doctors and nurses at Bella Health and Wellness, a Catholic medical clinic providing OB-GYN care, pediatric care, and family primary care in Englewood, have successfully provided abortion pill reversal care for their patients.To preserve their right to continue to do so, the clinic sued the state in federal court after the bill became law.In granting the injunction, Judge Domenico ruled the law violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment in several ways.Bella Health provides abortion pill reversal care because the clinic “considers 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.” The law discriminates against the clinic’s medical professionals when they act accordingly but “treats comparable secular activity [other off-label medical uses] more favorably.”Secondly, lawmakers made it known in hearings that they knew the law would have a disproportionately adverse impact on faith-based providers.Lastly, the law would not be applied broadly since pharmacy and nursing boards would review complaints on a case-by-case basis.The judge also barred the state from penalizing the clinic under the so-called consumer protection section of the law.The law unjustly targets medical clinics like Bella Health and crisis pregnancy centers which provide pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, information about fetal development, referrals, material support such as diapers and baby clothes, and other material and medical needs.Because such centers and clinics do not perform abortions, the majority in the legislature believes they should be forbidden to use terms like “comprehensive pregnancy care” in their advertising. This impinges on free speech.The Supreme Court and lower courts have struck down similar laws on First Amendment grounds.Domenico’s reasoning is sound and subsequent decisions will likewise affirm the rights of those who assist women facing an unplanned pregnancy including those who have changed their minds in the midst of a medication abortion.Krista L.Kafer is a weekly Denver Post columnist.Follow her on Twitter: @kristakafer

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