FILE – This Jan. 5, 2018 file photo shows Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter speaking to reporters at the state Capitol building in Boise, Idaho. Otter on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 quietly signed into law a bill that will require women seeking medical abortions to be informed that the drug-induced procedures may be halted halfway. (Otto Kitsinger, File/Associated Press)
BOISE, Idaho — Idaho will become the latest conservative state to require women seeking abortions to be informed that the drug-induced procedures can be halted halfway, despite opposition from medical groups that say there is little evidence to support that claim.
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter quietly signed the proposal into law Tuesday along with nearly 50 other measures. The law, which will go into effect July 1, is the latest move by Republican-dominant states that are testing the government’s legal ability to restrict a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.
It comes just a day after Mississippi enacted the most restrictive abortion law in the United States, though a federal judge temporarily blocked it Tuesday.
Idaho’s measure follows an anti-abortion trend first enacted in Arkansas in 2015. Arkansas’ version requires women to be told “it may be possible to reverse the effects of the abortion if the pregnant woman changes her mind, but that time is of the essence.” Idaho’s measure reads similarly.
Laws have since passed in Utah and South Dakota requiring women to be informed that mifepristone — the drug that begins a medication abortion — does not always end a pregnancy if taken alone.
A version in Arizona was challenged in court, but the lawsuit was eventually dropped after the governor effectively repealed the requirement in 2016 by changing the language.
To date, there is no evidence the abortion reversal procedure works and little information about its safety.
Multiple medical groups across the country have cited potentially flawed science and ethical concerns. For example, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said there is no medically accepted evidence that a drug-induced abortion can be interrupted.
“Claims regarding abortion ‘reversal’ treatment are not based on science and do not meet clinical standards,” the group posted on their website. “Politicians should never mandate treatments or require that physicians tell patients inaccurate information.”
Idaho state Sen. Lori Den Hartog, a Republican seeking re-election this year, has said she brought the measure forward to give women more information and options.
Jon Hanian, the governor’s spokesman, said Otter did not immediately have a comment on his choice to sign the proposal into law.
Otter also signed a measure Tuesday that will provide legal protections for breastfeeding mothers. Idaho had previously been the only state in the country not to have such protections.
Idaho lawmakers killed a similar proposal 15 years ago over fears of women of exposing their breasts in public. This time around, lawmakers unanimously passed the measure that exempts breastfeeding mothers from Idaho’s indecent exposure law.
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