Emily was only nineteen years old when she found herself pregnant unexpectedly. Though she was building a good life for herself, she was terrified at the thought of having a baby at that time. Afraid to tell her parents or to ask for help, Emily made an appointment with Planned Parenthood to seek a chemical abortion. She was hesitant in the days leading up to her appointment, but a nagging sense of fear pushed her to go for the abortion. The nurse had her sign waivers, and then handed her a pill and a cup of water. That pill was mifepristone, which would block the progesterone in Emily’s body that was helping her baby grow. “I stared at the pill in my hand and became overwhelmed with sadness and the feeling that I was making a terrible mistake. But yet again, the fear I had of being pregnant overcame all other emotions, and I took the pill,” said Emily.
She described that, “on the drive home I was consumed with guilt and regret. I cried the whole way home… When I got home I told my sister what I had done, and that I wanted to fix it and reverse it somehow.” Together, the sisters did research online, and found an organization that said they could help her. A nurse took down Emily’s information and connected her with a health clinic in her area that was trained in abortion pill reversal. Emily went to an appointment first thing the next morning, and received treatment. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy the following July.
Emily is one of many people who take the first pill to induce a chemical abortion and regret it.
Thankfully, if action is taken quickly, the pregnancy can be saved. After an ultrasound confirms that the baby is still safe, progesterone is administered. This counteracts the mifepristone.
Though not every case is successful, initial studies demonstrate that abortion pill reversal is successful 64 to 68 percent of the time. While this is far from perfect, any chance at redemption for a vulnerable baby is valuable. Even if progesterone is not administered, sometimes mifepristone alone is not enough to terminate a pregnancy, but evidence suggests that progesterone does increase those chances.
While many people have enjoyed success from the reversal process, there has been difficulty solidifying the data around it. A prominent study was released this past April by Dr. George Delgado et al. that stated that reversal is safe and effective. However, some critics took issue with the technicalities of the study. This was not truly an experiment with a specified control group; rather, it was data analysis of the 754 people who have called the reversal hotline in the past few years. Dr. Delgado temporarily withdrew the study from the journal in which it was published, and is seeking to correct the oversights of classification and details that made the study seem unreliable. When met with the suggestion to do a control group with a placebo treatment, Dr. Delgado used the following analogy:
“Let’s say you had a heart attack, right. Yes. If you had a heart attack and the people in this room went to do CPR on you. What if I told him, “Stop, don’t do CPR. There is no randomized controlled placebo trial proving that CPR works.” Would you want me to do that? I don’t think so. You would want me to do CPR right away because you know that there’s no better treatment when somebody has a heart attack outside of a hospital and their heart stops. And that’s the best way to start it. Wouldn’t it be unethical to put you in a placebo controlled trial to mark you and say, “You’re the one who did not get CPR.” We would just put our hands on your chest and not push in. Wouldn’t that be unethical, to let you die?
Same thing with these women who want reversal .… It would be unethical and unfair to those women who were assigned to the placebo group. And just because we don’t yet have a randomized controlled trial doesn’t mean that the study we’ve done now is valueless. It has a lot of value.”
As pro-life people who recognize the life of the baby in the womb as valuable and irreplaceable, we cannot organize a trial that arbitrarily chooses a sample of innocents to let die. But we can ethically look at the data concerning those who do seek treatment, and learn from that.
Some states, like North Carolina, are introducing legislation that would require consultations about abortion to include information about abortion pill reversal. This legislation is starting to get the word out about the reversal process, which means that more and more people have access to this life-saving resource. For more information about the reversal process, visit www.abortionpillreversal.com.