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Is Abortion Pill Reversal Safe and Effective?

Despite progressive states trying to ban APR, the treatment is proving to be safe for moms and lifesaving for babies.

01/30/24

John Stonestreet

Jared Hayden

In the wake of Dobbs, pro-abortion activists are lobbying states to expand access to chemical abortion. As of 2020, chemical abortions made up nearly 54% of all abortions in the United States. Often referred to as “the abortion pill,” the chemical abortion process is actually two pills. The first is intended to end the life of the preborn child. The second is intended to expel it. 

Drs. George Delgado and Matthew Harrison developed “abortion pill reversal” (APR) for mothers who, after taking the first pill in the chemical abortion regimen, change their minds. Pro-abortion groups generally claim that APR is ineffective and unsafe, an assertion often repeated across media outlets. 

The latest video in the What Would You Say Series? responds to this claim. In the video, Dr. Christina Francis, a board-certified OB-GYN and the CEO of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, outlines four things that every person who hopes to see abortion become truly unthinkable needs to know about APR.

The first is the chemical abortion process and how APR works. Here’s Dr. Francis: 

Chemical abortion involves two pills, Mifepristone and Misoprostol. Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone that ensures the flow of essential nutrients to the baby. Without it, the baby will starve and die. One to two days after taking Mifepristone, the mom then takes Misoprostol, which brings on contractions to expel the dead baby from the womb. 

The chemical abortion process can be reversed before Misoprostol is taken, thanks to a commonly understood chemical process called Reversible Competitive Inhibition. Mifepristone is an “inhibitor.” It blocks progesterone from being able to do its job. If the mom is given natural progesterone within 72 hours of taking Mifepristone, the resulting increase in progesterone can overcome (or “outcompete”) the blockade, restoring to the preborn baby the vital nutrients he or she needs. 

In fact, according to a 2018 study by Dr. Delgado, mothers who take progesterone after taking Mifepristone more than double their babies’ chance of survival (from 25% to between 64 and 68%).  

Second, APR is safe because “[n]atural progesterone has been used safely in early pregnancy for decades.” 

According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, “progesterone has been used to support healthy pregnancies since the 1950s.” Natural progesterone is also commonly used for early pregnancy support in women with a history of recurrent pregnancy loss. That means healthier moms and babies! 

Third, even studies performed by pro-abortion researchers show that APR is effective and safe.  

In 2019, Dr. Mitchell Creinin, an abortion provider and a paid consultant for the leading U.S. producer of Mifepristone, set up a study to determine the safety and efficacy of progesterone treatment for abortion pill reversal. Dr. Creinin recruited 12 women who wanted to end their pregnancies. All the moms were given Mifepristone. Then, six were given progesterone while the other six were given a placebo. None of the moms were given Misoprostol, the second pill in the chemical abortion process. 

Two women dropped out of the study early, leaving five in each group for the final analysis. The study was cut short after three of the women suffered severe bleeding. That information has been used to imply that attempting to reverse the chemical abortion is unsafe—but the results of the study say otherwise. 

The two women with the most severe health complications were in the group given Mifepristone and the placebo. Their hemorrhaging required emergency surgery, and one even needed a blood transfusion. The third woman who experienced heavy bleeding was in the Mifepristone-plus-progesterone group, but when she arrived at the hospital, she was found to have already completed her chemical abortion. Her bleeding stopped on its own. So, contrary to what pro-abortion groups often claim, the safety concerns exposed by this study are tied to Mifepristone use, not to progesterone. 

In fact, Dr. Creinin’s study showed the effectiveness of progesterone. In the group of women who took progesterone, four out of five still had living babies two weeks after treatment. This was double the 40% survival rate of the babies in the Mifepristone-only group. 

Finally, the abortion pill reversal has already saved more than 4,500 lives.  

Even doctors who are pro-choice should support providing information about abortion pill reversal to women who regret their choice to abort their baby. The 4,000-plus women who have used abortion pill reversal are proof that that regret is real—but it doesn’t have to be the last word if they can access this lifesaving treatment in time.   

Despite all this, states like Colorado are trying to ban APR. Every pro-life person needs to be ready to answer the question covered in this video with Dr. Christina Francis, “What is Abortion Pill Reversal, and Is It Safe?” To see the whole video and share it with others, go to whatwouldyousay.org, or, look up the What Would You Say? channel on YouTube. Subscribe to be notified each time a new video is released. 

This Breakpoint was co-authored by Jared Hayden. If you’re a fan of Breakpoint, leave a review on your favorite podcast app. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org. 

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