So-Called “Abortion Reversal” Bill Is a Bad Idea


Anti-abortion protestors hold signs toward pedestrians and passing traffic Wednesday, July 11, 2018, outside the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo. Erin Bormett / The Forum

It’s been a while since we’ve had a fight over abortion in the North Dakota legislature. Six years ago there were a number of abortion bills passed by lawmakers, and achieved varying levels of success in the courts, but since then we haven’t seen much in the way of abortion legislation.

But in the 2019 session state Rep. Daniel Johnston (R-Kathryn) has introduced a bill which would add to North Dakota’s informed consent statutes a requirement that doctors tell a woman seeking an abortion that it may be possible to reverse the effects of an abortion-inducing drug.

The key excerpt from HB1336:

The goal here is to give the woman seeking the abortion information in the hope that she’ll reconsider having the abortion.

I’m pro-life, and I’d like to stop abortions, but I don’t favor this sort of tactic. It smacks of a war of attrition against abortion. An effort to complicate the process of abortion, and wearing down the women seeking them to the point where they opt not to seek one after all.

I wish the pro-life movement would stop investing their efforts into this sort of legislation, and instead focus on areas of public policy we know actually reduce the number of abortions performed.

Abortion rates are at historic lows in the United States right now, and that’s attributable to a couple of things. Like better access to contraception, and better choices when it comes to sex.

In a policy area as complicated as this one is it can be hard to draw an concrete, cause-and-effect conclusions, but it sure seems to this observer like sex education efforts have done more to reduce abortions than just about anything else.

Which leads me to believe that the best way to prevent an abortion isn’t to badger the women seeking them with an endless series of hoops to jump through, but rather to decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

Lawmakers should eschew Rep. Johnston’s bill, and if they do anything this session, they should focus resources on better access to contraception and sex education.