Patty Knap calls herself a “born again” Catholic. She planned to be a wife and mother of four or five kids with several girls, but as life played out, she’s a single mom with two young adult boys. She counsels at a crisis pregnancy center, teaches CCD, takes online classes with the Avila Institute, and loves the beach, dalmatians, and America’s national parks. She also saves recipes in a pile until it gets big and then throws them out.
The over-the-counter abortion pill, also called RU-486 and often sold alongside candy and batteries, is making the 'choice' to end one’s pregnancy all too simple. This type of chemical abortion, done at home, now accounts for up to half of all abortions in some states.
Women who start the two-pill protocol sometimes panic after impulsively taking the first pill and want to stop the abortion process. Dr. George Delgado, founder of the abortion reversal pill (ARP), has tracked hundreds of women who took it after taking the first of the two abortion pills (mifepristone). For the first few years the ARP was available, reports of healthy babies born after their mothers took the ARP were covered only by conservative and Catholic media. Other media only had sarcastic comments about (you guessed it) limiting women's 'rights' and that the ARP had yet to be 'researched.'
But now the results of 754 women who took the ARP are beginning to appear in the mainstream media. This week the Washington Post and Newsweek reported on Dr. Delgado's tracking of these patients. His research will be published this week in Issues in Law and Medicine. It looks at the women who called a ARP hotline from 2012 to 2016 after taking mifepristone, but before taking misoprostol, the second drug required. Of the 547 patients who took progesterone within 72 hours of taking mifepristone and had outcomes that were known, there were 257 live births. Another four women remained pregnant with what seemed to be viable fetuses, but were lost to follow-up tracking after their 20th week of pregnancy. Fifty-seven of the women changed their minds again after taking progesterone. They took the second pill to complete their abortion or sought a surgical abortion The overall rate of a pregnancy continuing, Delgado wrote, was 48 percent.
While we now have two 'mainstream' media outlets reporting on the success of the ARP, pro-choice leanings are not disguised by either. Both mockingly refer to the journal Issues in Law and Medicine as having ties to (horrors) "an anti-abortion group" and imply that Dr. Delgado's tracking of ARP patients is not considered a randomized controlled trial.
Dr. Delgado began researching abortion pill reversal after a patient asked if he could undo her decision to start a chemical abortion. Knowing that pregnant women at risk of miscarriage are treated with doses of progesterone, he reasoned the same approach might offset RU 486. The patient’s reversal succeeded. He conferred with other doctors who had also had success, and in 2012, with Mary L. Davenport, M.D., he published a report in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, a peer-reviewed journal. The report, Progesterone Use to Reverse the Effects of Mifepristone, cited four reversals from six cases and suggested a reversal protocol.
With success documented, Dr. Delgado set up a hotline and a registry of doctors willing to administer the protocol; so far, 274 doctors in the U.S. and 20 in other countries have joined. He launched a website, abortionpillreversal.com. To date Culture of Life Family Services has helped women in 45 states and 13 countries. Calls go directly to the cell phones of nurses with Culture of Life Family Services. If a woman calls from an area not served by a registry physician, the staff drops everything to find a doctor willing to help. The woman receives progesterone injections if she can be seen right away. If she can’t, she receives a prescription for prometrium, a vaginal suppository that is nearly as effective. The injections continue throughout the first trimester, decreasing in frequency. Periodic ultrasounds confirm continued viability.
Delgado himself wants more research. He plans to start a randomized clinical trial in the next few months after he gets the funding. He compares the skepticism about abortion reversal to early questions about cardiopulmonary resuscitation when that technique was first introduced.
“It hadn't been studied formally in a big way, but we saw it was saving lives and had no alternatives. Were you going to wait when someone was dying in front of you?” he said.