Katie Vandegrift recently shared her story of losing three unborn children to miscarriage in a recent opinion column. Her pain and loss was deeply moving and deserves our compassion, but her personal story wasn't grounds for dismissing the need for SB 50, the Chemical Abortion Reporting Act.
Vandergrift, a patient advocate from Midway, compared her spontaneous miscarriages with abortion and said "abortion means different things to different people" and "if you’ve had a miscarriage and made the decision to take medication to end the pregnancy, the state of Kentucky wants to track it." This is inaccurate.
Opponents of the proposed abortion reporting requirement interchange the term miscarriage and abortion which brings confusion instead of clarity and in some cases fear. The average person knows the difference between the two.
SB 50 doesn't address miscarriage. It addresses abortion as defined by Kentucky Revised Statute 311.720 (1) which says "the use of any means whatsoever to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant with intent to cause fetal death." In Vandergrift's case, her pre-born child was unfortunately already dead, so the proposed law wouldn't apply.
Dr. Donna Harrison, who testified on behalf of SB 50 on February 21, said of Vandergrift's situation "Mifeprex was not given to "end her pregnancy. The Mifeprex was given to cause her to expel her dead fetus and the placenta." This wouldn't be reportable under the proposed law because there was no "intent to cause fetal death."
Vandergrift suggested that the purpose of the law was to "inflate the number of abortions in the state so they can use the data to horrify people and ultimately criminalize something women have no control over." Where to begin?
Reporting chemical abortion inflates nothing. Nor is the state interested in horrifying its citizens by reporting huge numbers of abortions. By the way, Kentucky had 3,201 surgical abortions reported in 2017.
SB 50 doesn't criminalize miscarriage and necessary medical care as Vandergrift suggests. It simply tracks an abortion method not previously required to be reported by law as are surgical abortions. Today, nearly one-third of all abortions are done chemically. And it's in the interest of the state to track abortions as an important public health tool, especially to gauge trends and track any complications.
Vandergrift said "that I don’t go a day without hearing, ‘Abortion is murder.’ I don’t think I’m a criminal." Having a miscarriage is not a criminal act and suggesting otherwise isn't supported by the bill's language. It only requires medical professionals to report to the state Department of Vital Statistics when medication is given to end a pregnancy. It's also completely confidential as names of patients and people picking up the prescription of abortion-inducing drugs are in no way identified.
Yet there's another important provision that was added to SB 50 as a substitute amendment. It requires the medical professional to tell the pregnant mother that if she changes her mind after taking the first pill (it's a two-pill process) the abortion process can be reversed. It's called Abortion Pill Reversal (APR).
Dr. Tom Green, a recently retired OB-GYN from Murray, testified that he successfully helped two women reverse their initial decision to abort their children. This was accomplished through hormone therapy. To date, there have been over 500 children who've made it into this world after their mother's changed their minds.
SB 50 brings abortion reporting requirements in line with medical trends. It's full disclosure and empowering to women who've had a change of heart regarding one of their most difficult decisions. And children whose lives were hanging in the balance get a second shot. And who could be against that?
Richard Nelson is the executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center.