New peer-reviewed research has one abortion advocate acknowledging the effectiveness of a procedure that reverses chemical abortions, a process increasingly promoted by pro-life physicians.
In his study, abortion pill reversal pioneer George Delgado examined the cases of 547 women who called a pro-life hotline after they regretted taking mifepristone, the first of a duo of drugs designed to abort early pregnancies. He and other researchers concluded the procedure is safe for the mother and usually effective in saving the baby’s life.
Women who called the Abortion Pill Reversal hotline often had misgivings about their decision before they even took the drug, Delgado told me.
“I think the reason why is that human beings are hardwired to nurture, to take care of, and to protect their young, and that includes the unborn,” he said. “And so when you go against that hardwiring, there are going to be some regrets.”
Of the 1,668 women who called the Abortion Pill Reversal hotline from 2012 to 2016, 754 went to a local doctor willing to give them the progesterone reversal therapy. Of those, 547 took progesterone within 72 hours of taking mifepristone and stayed in touch for follow-up care. Out of those, 257 women gave birth to their babies. Overall, the reversal rate for chemical abortions was 47 percent, significantly higher than the “failure” rate of taking mifepristone alone—at most 25 percent, according to the study. High dose oral ingestion of progesterone had the highest rate of success, at 68 percent.
The science behind abortion pill reversal is simple: Mifepristone, prescribed and dispensed by abortionists, blocks progesterone receptors. Without the pregnancy-sustaining hormone progesterone, the developing baby doesn’t get the needed oxygen and nutrients, dying about 75 percent of the time. But if the mother takes a high enough dose of progesterone within 72 hours of taking mifepristone, researchers found, the baby has as much as a 68 percent chance of surviving.
Doctors have used progesterone for decades to avert preterm birth, and a few have used it since 2006 to successfully reverse the effects of mifepristone for hundreds of mothers. Delgado and his team found the treatment led to no greater rate of birth defects than average and a much lower preterm birth rate than average.
Despite the simplicity of the procedure, many abortion advocates have called it fake science and even now protest laws designed to promote awareness of the treatment. But the latest study has softened at least one opponent’s tone.
Last year, University of California, San Francisco, professor Daniel Grossman told the New York Times Delgado’s research was “poor quality” and provided “no evidence that any kind of treatment is better than doing nothing.”
But last week, Grossman admitted the use of progesterone to counter mifepristone “makes some biological sense.”
The abortion advocate still called the treatment “experimental” and argued only a small portion of women who take mifepristone change their minds. “But it’s not zero, and I do think that women who change their minds should be given the best available information about what they should do,” he added.
While Delgado admits further research in the form of a randomized control trial is needed, doctors shouldn’t wait to give unborn babies a chance at life: “It doesn’t make sense that we should withhold treatment like this for women in that situation, when it has been shown to be safe and effective and there is no alternative treatment.”