Colorado closer to banning ‘abortion reversal’ treatment after medical board decision

By: - August 17, 2023 7:51 pm

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The Colorado Medical Board decided Thursday that a so-called abortion reversal method is outside the “generally accepted standard of practice.”

The board did not go so far as to declare the method unprofessional conduct, as Democrats in the state Legislature hoped for. Still, the decision is a significant step in getting the practice banned in the state, which has become a destination for pregnant people seeking abortion care, as other states restrict access.

A new law signed by Gov. Jared Polis this year would classify providing medication abortion reversals as unprofessional misconduct, thus effectively banning it in the state — unless the state’s medical, nursing and pharmacy boards decide the procedure is a “generally accepted standard of practice.”

“Although the board will not treat medication abortion reversal as a per se act of unprofessional misconduct, the board does not consider administering, dispensing or delivering progesterone with the intent to interfere with, reverse, or halt a medication abortion undertaken through the use of mifepristone and/or misoprostol to meet generally accepted standards of medical practice,” the new rule reads. “Licensees are expected to practice evidence-based medicine, and any licensee who provides unscientific treatments that fall below the generally accepted standard of care may be subject to discipline.”

The Board of Nursing and the Board of Pharmacy are scheduled to decide on their proposed rules Sept. 20 and 21.


The rule states that the board would investigate reported instances that could meet the definition of a medication abortion reversal on a case-by-case basis.

It took hours of public testimony, debate and a lengthy executive session with the board’s lawyer to approve the rule.

Abortion reversal refers to when a patient takes a high dose of progesterone after they take mifepristone, the first pill in a two-step medication abortion procedure. The idea is that the progesterone can offset the effects of mifepristone if a regretful patient takes it soon enough. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists call claims in support of the abortion reversal practice “not based on science.”

Some anti-abortion centers in Colorado, sometimes referred to by proponents as crisis pregnancy centers, offer abortion reversal, and bill sponsors argued that the centers target vulnerable pregnant people to prevent them from seeking timely abortion care or convince them to attempt an abortion reversal.

While the intention of the legislation was clear through testimony and statements from the sponsors, the bill text does not actually include the terms progesterone, mifepristone or misoprostol.

Dr. Roland Flores, the president of the medical board, had concerns about that broad language in the law and whether it could unintentionally capture situations other than the progesterone treatment.

“It seems to me that the intent of this bill was to stop the predatory bait-and-switch of deceiving women. It would be my assumption that none of us have any question about whether a bait-and-switch and deception is an unethical practice of medicine,” he said. “The legislation does not lay (progesterone) out specifically. It is incredibly general in that ‘any prescription medicine’ and then ‘any medicine used to interfere with that process.’”

By specifically naming the medications in the board’s rule, it is concurrent with the legislation’s intent, Flores said.

“This ruling is a huge win for reproductive rights and justice. We are proud to be the first state in the nation to ensure that our communities will no longer be deceived into an unethical, experimental practice, and that providers of this so-called treatment will be held accountable for their actions,” Katherine Riley, the policy director for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, and Natasha Berwick, the political director for New Era Colorado, said in a joint statement.


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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado.