A federal judge has ruled that a Colorado Christian medical center can continue offering an unproven treatment aimed at reversing the effects of medication abortion, despite a state law attempting to prohibit it.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Domenico’s decision is based on religious freedom, stating that Colorado’s law likely infringes upon this constitutional right.
The ruling, which came on a recent Saturday, prevents the state from enforcing the law against Bella Health and Wellness, a Catholic medical center located just outside of Denver in Englewood. Bella Health and Wellness had filed a lawsuit to block the law, and the judge’s order ensures that the law will not be enforced against anyone working with the medical center while he considers the center’s challenge.
Dede Chism and Abby Sinnett, cofounders of Bella Health and Wellness, expressed their relief and joy at the ruling, as it allows them to continue assisting women who seek their clinic’s help. On the other hand, the office of Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, which had defended the law, declined to comment.
The contentious issue revolves around medication abortion, which begins with the use of mifepristone, a drug that blocks the action of progesterone, a hormone crucial for sustaining pregnancy. The procedure is completed with a second drug, misoprostol. Advocates of so-called medication abortion reversal claim that if a woman changes her mind after taking mifepristone but before taking misoprostol, the pregnancy can be continued by administering a high dose of progesterone.
Despite these claims, there is a lack of large, controlled studies supporting the safety and efficacy of medication abortion reversal, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has stated that the treatment is not backed by scientific evidence.
Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, signed a law on April 14 designed to subject healthcare practitioners who perform medication abortion reversals to disciplinary measures. Bella Health and Wellness promptly filed its lawsuit on the same day the law was signed into effect.
Judge Domenico, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, ruled that the law likely violated Bella Health’s religious freedom because it treated the use of progesterone for medication abortion reversal differently from other applications of the hormone.
The abortion pill itself has been a topic of various legal battles, with anti-abortion groups earlier this year winning an order that essentially banned its use. However, this order remains on hold while the Biden administration appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In this ongoing abortion debate, Republican state legislatures have taken steps to restrict access to the abortion pill, while Democratic legislatures have sought to protect it.
In a somewhat related development, CVS Corp recently removed specific cold medicines from its shelves. This action followed a statement from U.S. regulators asserting that the active ingredient in these medicines, phenylephrine, lacked sufficient supporting evidence of its effectiveness.