Taking a second chance at heroic choice
Women who change their minds after taking mifepristone, the first pill in the medical abortion process, have a safe and effective way to reverse an abortion, and which is now supported by more scientific evidence. There is definitely a second chance at choice! My colleagues and I published a new study in Issues in Law and Medicine, looking at the use of progesterone to reverse mifepristone (RU-486) medical abortions.
Progesterone is the hormone essential to the maintenance of a normal, healthy pregnancy. Mifepristone is a progesterone receptor blocker; the blockade of progesterone receptors leads to the separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus and death of the preborn baby. Mifepristone has been used for medical abortion in this country since the year 2000.
Currently, the FDA approves it for abortion up to the 10th week of pregnancy. In the U.S., 30 to 45 percent of abortions are mifepristone medical abortions (total of about 300,000 to 400,000 abortions annually). In some European countries, they comprise 75 percent of abortions.
The study looked at 261 successful mifepristone reversals and demonstrated reversal success rates of 64-68 percent with the protocols, significantly better than the 25 percent survival when no treatment is offered. There was no increased risk of birth defects or preterm births. Progesterone has been used safely in pregnancy for over 40 years. Further, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has declared that mifepristone does not cause birth defects in babies who survive it.
One of our clients wrote, “I just wanted to say, thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!” Another stated, “Changed my entire world by helping me that night. This is the best feeling in the world and nothing else matters. Thank you.”
We started the Abortion Pill Reversal network in 2012 as a project of Culture of Life Family Services. It has since grown into an international program. In April, Heartbeat International formally assumed control of the network.
Though abortion pill reversal research will remain under my direction, the partnership with Heartbeat allows the network to grow to serve more women who change their minds after taking mifepristone, while permitting us to focus on our ongoing research.
My immediate plan is to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that will compare the different progesterone protocols, in a head-to-head fashion. The next step will be the founding of a pro-life research institute that will be called the Steno Institute, after Blessed Nicolas Steno, a 17th-century Danish anatomist, physician, geologist, and convert to Catholicism who eventually gave up his scientific pursuits to devote himself to the study of the Faith. He was later named a bishop.
The Steno Institute will focus initially on furthering research in the area of abortion pill reversal. More scientific evidence is needed to counter pro-abortion critics who dismiss our findings out of hand. We will eventually widen our areas of interest because pro-life research, in general, is desperately needed to balance the anti-life bias that is so prevalent in medicine and the life sciences.
GEORGE DELGADO, M.D. is the founder of Abortion Pill Reversal and the medical director of Culture of Life Family Services in San Diego County, CA. He is a member of the Catholic Medical Association, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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