A group of Catholic nurses in Colorado feel called to help reverse chemical abortions. But a new law in the state makes it illegal for them to practice what they preach. Here is the full story.
They Have a Mission
Bella Health and Wellness is a nonprofit health organization based in Colorado that takes a “mission approach to medicine and serves all people,” according to their website.
Target on Their Backs
But, despite that broad umbrella of service, there is one particular area of Bella’s practice that has come under fire this year by pro-choice advocates and Colorado lawmakers.
Called to Serve
Dede Chism and Abby Sinnett, a mother-daughter pair of Catholic nurses, are the founders of Bella.
They say they have been called to their work, and they take great pride in helping expectant mothers.
Treated Like Criminals
But it’s their work with a certain group of pregnant women that have left Bella on the wrong side of the law.
Reversing a Big Decision
That’s because one of Bella’s specialties is helping women reverse so-called “chemical abortions” and then carry their pregnancies to term.
Not as Simple as It Sounds
Chemical abortions are typically carried out through the administration of the “abortion pill,” which actually involves two different drugs.
Hard to Swallow
The first step for a woman who wants to end her pregnancy through the pharmaceutical route is to take a pill called mifepristone.
Disrupting Their Bodies
Mifepristone shuts down the woman’s natural production of progesterone, which is necessary for a pregnancy to continue and become viable.
The Final Countdown
Then, within the next 48 hours, the woman takes misoprostol, which actually causes her to miscarry, or expel her placenta.
She Can Change Her Mind
But if a woman who takes mifepristone changes her mind before moving on to the second step, there is often a chance to save her pregnancy, according to Laura Slavis, an attorney for the nurses.
Like a Time Machine
By administering progesterone, medical professionals are often able to reverse the effects of mifepristone and save the pregnancy.
Good Times Over?
That’s just what Bella has done for dozens of women in recent years, says Slavis. But that may not be possible in the future.
They Feel Deceived
In April, the Colorado legislature passed a law that bans the practice of abortion-pill reversal. They called the procedure “deceptive” and voted to end it.
The penalty for using progesterone to reverse an abortion is $20,000 per offense, plus the loss of the practitioner’s medical license.
They Can’t Walk Away
While Bella offers other services and could likely keep the lights on without the reversal procedure, the mother-and-daughter nurses feel they have a moral obligation to continue with the practice.
We’ll See You in Court
That’s why Chism and Sinnett are suing Colorado. They say the new law violates their First Amendment right to free speech.
Trump Lends a Hand
Right away, federal district judge Daniel Domenico granted Bella a temporary injunction against the law so they could continue practicing.
Donenico was appointed to his current position by former president Donald Trump.
Back in Trouble
But that injunction has now expired, with no movement on the core of Bella’s case against the state. Slavis has asked for that ruling to be extended until the full case plays out.
Fighting for Faith
She also sees this as a broader fight, one that will be “extremely beneficial to faith-based organizations across the country” if Bella wins against the state.
Calling on Hold
In the meantime, Chism and Sinnett wait for the next court decision. Their ability to fully answer their calling hangs in the balance.
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