A second chance for moms and babies
Pro-abortion groups sue to keep women in Tennessee from learning about abortion pill reversal
Dr. George Delgado was working at his San Diego office in 2009 when he received a call from Terri Palmquist, a pro-life sidewalk counselor in Bakersfield, Calif. Palmquist fielded calls from women across the country facing unplanned pregnancies. She had just spoken with a woman in El Paso, Texas, who had taken mifepristone, the first drug in the abortion pill regimen, and wanted to reverse the process. Palmquist asked Delgado if it could be done.
“I had not heard of anybody ever having success at reversing it or attempting to reverse it,” Delgado said. But he knew mifepristone blocked the effects of progesterone, an essential pregnancy hormone. Giving the woman extra progesterone could compete with the mifepristone and save the baby’s life. Delgado found an El Paso doctor who had progesterone in her office and recommended a dosage. The doctor gave it to the woman, and the baby survived.
Delgado went on to publish the first peer-reviewed article on progesterone’s effectiveness in halting drug-induced abortions. He helped set up the Abortion Pill Rescue website and hotline to connect mothers to a nurse who can help them find a doctor to prescribe and administer progesterone. Other studies have supported the reversal process, and pro-life advocates across the country are working to inform women they can save their babies even after starting a chemical abortion.
Earlier this year, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, signed a law requiring abortion providers to tell mothers about abortion pill reversal. Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state last week to stop the law from taking effect as scheduled on Oct. 1.
The pro-abortion groups claim the law violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by requiring doctors to “communicate a content-based, viewpoint-based, and/or controversial government-mandated message that they would not otherwise recite concerning an experimental medical treatment that has not been shown to be safe or effective.”
Delgado said scientific research supports abortion pill reversal and called claims to the contrary “patently false.” He published a study in Issues in Law and Medicine in 2017 that found about 20 percent of babies survived the effects of mifepristone without any further medical intervention. A year later, Delgado followed up with a study in the same journal showing babies supported by doses of progesterone after their mothers took mifepristone had a survival rate of about 65 percent with no increased risk of birth defects.
“We’ve had several anecdotes where women called abortion centers when they have regrets, and they’re told that either abortion reversal is not possible or that their babies are sure to have birth defects,” he said. But a 2019 study intended to show the dangers of the reversal process ultimately demonstrated the abortion pill, not the progesterone, put mothers at risk. The researchers halted the study early because mifepristone caused severe bleeding.
Delgado said when abortion businesses “don’t take responsibility on their own … some states feel like they have to step in and protect the rights of women.”
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