Abortion pill reversal saves more and more babies
Importance of the treatment grows as chemical abortions become more common
In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Heartbeat International’s Abortion Pill Rescue Network saw its monthly average of abortion reversal attempts rise from 51 to just over 100. Now a year later, that monthly average has climbed to 150, said Jessica Warner, a spokesperson for the group. To date, abortion pill reversal treatment has saved more than 2,000 babies, according to Heartbeat International.
Dr. Jonathan Scrafford, a pro-life OB-GYN in Wichita, Kan., remembers delivering a baby whose mom had reversed her abortion after taking mifepristone, the first drug in the abortion pill cocktail. “Delivering any baby is certainly profound and amazing, But especially in that case, to know that this was a pregnancy that very well would not have been there and continued if mom had not chosen to reverse,” he said.
Chemical abortions involve two drugs. The first, mifepristone, blocks the flow of nutrients to the unborn baby. Misoprostol, often taken a couple of days later, causes the woman’s uterus to contract and deliver the baby.
If a woman begins taking the hormone progesterone within 72 hours of taking mifepristone and hasn’t yet taken misoprostol, the progesterone could overpower the effects of the first drug. One study of more than 700 women showed a survival rate for the unborn child of 64-68 percent with no added risk of birth defects.
Lawmakers in several states have introduced legislation to require abortionists to tell women about abortion pill reversal. Warner said five states have passed the legislation, though in one state, the law is enjoined. In Indiana, a law is scheduled to take effect July 1, but pro-abortion groups have already filed suit to block it. Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter said that a court order could come at any time in June.
“Chemical abortions are now 44 percent of all abortions done in Indiana,” he said. “And yet the thousands of women opting for this procedure are kept totally in the dark about abortion pill reversal.”
Proponents of abortion often point to a study from January 2020 to support their claim that reversing a medication abortion is unsafe. Researchers stopped enrolling subjects in the study after three women experienced heavy bleeding. But only one of them had taken progesterone, and her symptoms stopped without medical intervention. The other two women were given a placebo instead of progesterone, and one of them required medical attention. Scrafford said the study results only prove taking mifepristone without any other drug is dangerous, not that prescribing progesterone is.
“Most of the debate is underpinned by just deep-seated feelings about abortion itself, not about abortion pill reversal,” he said.
Common side effects of progesterone include dizziness, hot flashes, acne, abdominal pain or cramping, and headaches. But a recent study reported that thousands of women experienced much more serious complications after taking mifepristone, including ruptured ectopic pregnancies, hemorrhaging, or even death. The study also reported that a higher percentage of women hemorrhaged after taking both abortion drugs than women who only took mifepristone.
A lack of medical oversight of drug-induced abortions could pose a greater threat to women’s health. In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suspended the in-person requirement for dispensing mifepristone during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a state does not have its own rules in place, a provider could prescribe mifepristone to a woman without ever examining her to verify how far along she is or whether her pregnancy is ectopic. Dr. Donna Harrison, CEO of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said prescribing this medication without an in-person visit and diagnosis is irresponsible: “In any other area of gynecology, it’d be medical malpractice.”
Scrafford said abortion pill reversal can only help women who know about the option and regret their abortion very soon after taking mifepristone. “Abortion pill reversal is a pretty small piece of the pie,” he said. But that small piece of the pie could be growing.
“It’s very clear: Chemical abortions are not a fad,” Fichter said. “This is the future of the abortion industry. Everyone who’s paying attention to this issue is recognizing that.”
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