You might not have heard of the term abortion reversal, but as the term suggests, it’s the
theory that an abortion in progress can be halted or reversed.
It has gained such rampant attention that six states in the United States now require doctors to
inform patients that it is possible to get their abortions reversed if they so choose. However, the science is shaky at best and when tests were carried out, it didn’t go so well for
some of the subjects.
The abortion being examined is medication abortion which works with the help of two drugs:
mifepristone, which dislodges the pregnancy from the uterus, and misoprostol which induces the
uterus to push it out. These drugs are to be taken at set intervals.
The proponents of abortion reversal, argue that the introduction of progesterone — a hormone
associated with miscarriage prevention– can hinder the effects of mifepristone.
Researchers at the University of California–Davis Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology put
this theory to the test, recruiting 40 pregnant women for the experiment. Things were brought to
an abrupt halt when complications landed three women in the hospital, with one of them even
needing a blood transfusion.
Dr. Mitchell Creinin, the lead author and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UC Davis,
spoke to The Cut and he said of the experiment, “I did not expect women to bleed like this,
that’s why we stopped the study. I couldn’t continue to enroll women and put them at the same
kind of risk.”
So, where did the idea of abortion reversal come from?
It has its origins from a 2012 paper by one Dr. George Delgado, who examined six cases of
women who had taken mifepristone and had been shot up with progesterone afterwards.
According to Delgado, four of the six gave birth. He never did talk about the fate of the other
two. Delgado then expanded his experiment to 547 women and he reported that just under half
of them had their babies. Again, the fate of some of the other women weren’t added with the
only mention of the fate of the others being a report that 116 women “were lost to follow-up” and
that 57 “changed their minds again,”
Dr. Creinin slammed this paper stating, “When somebody’s only reporting part of what needs to
be reported, then it becomes almost invalid. How can I trust it?”
Delgado’s paper and hypothesis wasn’t only shoddy in the reporting of events, but also in the
procedure. It was discovered that the doctor didn’t use a control in either of his tests and
bypassed the necessary ethical review committees who generally oversee such procedures.
Also speaking out against Delgado and his abortion reversal methods was Dr. Daniel
Grossman, an abortion provider, director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health
(ANSIRH), who spoke to the Cut and said, “The science underlying these laws was bad,
“It’s frustrating that the reproductive health community has to invest resources to study
something like abortion ‘reversal,’ but our patients deserve to know whether the treatments we
are recommending are safe and effective.”
Despite all this, doctors are still being forced to inform their patients of the possibility of abortion
reversal which just further puts more and more women in danger.