Nurse investigated for abortion pill reversal treatments can challenge state law, court rules

Chelsea Mynyk (L), licensed nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife, owner of Castle Rock Women's Health, with a patient.
Chelsea Mynyk (L), licensed nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife, owner of Castle Rock Women's Health, with a patient. | Resonate Films

Nurse practitioner Chelsea Mynyk may join a lawsuit challenging a Colorado law that bars healthcare providers from offering abortion pill reversal treatments after the state investigated her, a federal judge has ruled. 

United States Magistrate Judge Susan Prose issued an order last Monday allowing Mynyk to intervene in the case Bella Health and Wellness v. Weiser, according to the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the nurse.

Mynyk practices as a certified nurse midwife at Castle Rock Women's Health, which she operates. Her involvement in the lawsuit follows a preliminary injunction favoring Bella Health and Wellness, which challenged the same state law.

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The law restricts medical professionals from assisting women who regret initiating or may have been coerced to initiate a chemical abortion process by taking mifepristone. 

Also known as RU-486, mifepristone is the first pill in the chemical abortion regimen. It is a synthetic steroid endocrine disruptor that blocks progesterone receptors in the uterus and starves the baby to death. 

ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot argues in a statement that the abortion pill reversal treatment, which involves administering progesterone to counteract mifepristone, is an option that should remain available to patients.

"Colorado can't silence medical professionals and prevent them from saving lives," Theriot said. "Many women regret their abortions, and some choose to reverse the effects of the first abortion drug, often saving their baby's life. But Colorado's law wrongly denies women the freedom to make that choice. The state can't force women to follow through with an abortion when a safe alternative is available — one that Chelsea and the pro-life plaintiffs in this case can skillfully provide."

Proponents of abortion pill reversal argue it is a safe and effective means to reverse the effects of mifepristone, advocating for the patient's right to choose continuation of pregnancy after initial steps towards abortion. Critics, however, question the treatment's safety and scientific backing.

Last year, Colorado passed a law explicitly banning the procedure, prompting Bella Health and Wellness, represented by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, to file a lawsuit against Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and other state entities, stating that the law infringed on their constitutional rights and religious freedoms.

The case saw a significant development when U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Domenico granted a preliminary injunction that temporarily halted enforcement of the law against Bella Health and Wellness. However, this injunction did not extend to other providers like Mynyk, who seeks legal recourse to defend her practice and her patients' choices.

Mynyk's stake in the matter escalated when she received a notification from the Colorado State Board of Nursing about an investigation into her practice based on an anonymous complaint regarding her provision of abortion pill reversal.

The investigation reflects the practical implications of the law for individual healthcare providers. Mynyk argues that she feels "religiously compelled" to provide abortion pill reversal. 

In her legal fight, Mynyk asserts that the Colorado law violates her First Amendment rights by restricting free speech and her Fourteenth Amendment rights by impeding due process and unlawfully limiting her ability to provide complete information and services to their patients.

The lawsuit coincides with national scrutiny over abortion policies, especially following the U.S. Supreme Court's consideration of challenges to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's regulations on mifepristone. Groups like the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists argue that loosening restrictions on abortion drugs compromises patient safety.

"According to the FDA's own label, roughly one in 25 women who use these drugs will require emergency medical attention for serious, even life-threatening, complications," AAPLOG stated. "The risks to women who take abortion drugs only increase without in-person screenings by medical professionals."

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