Who needs an ultrasound? DIY chemical abortion is here.

In 1996, the Clintons used the phrase “safe, legal, and rare” to describe the supposed goal for abortions. Since then, many people have dropped the “rare” from their list of stated expectations, but they have continued to proclaim that they are concerned about the safety of women getting abortions. In fact, a primary purported reason for keeping abortion legal has always been the prevention of do-it-yourself, “back-alley” procedures.

In what could certainly be seen as a contradiction, some of these same people have petitioned to increasingly remove medical professionals from the abortions themselves. Not only have these activists dodged efforts to hold abortion centers to the same standards as other medical facilities, but in Canada, they have now legalized self-managed chemical abortions. Until now, patients were required to receive an ultrasound before being prescribed the abortion pills, but the government has done away with this mandate.

“Sexual health advocates” were quick to praise this action, noting that it would remove a possible barrier to abortion for women who had difficulty scheduling an ultrasound. But what it has also removed is a vital safety check that keeps women likely to be harmed by the medication from taking it. So… what could go wrong?

Undiagnosed Ectopic Pregnancy 
One of the main reasons for the ultrasound requirement (currently still in place for the United States) is to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. In this life-threatening condition, the zygote implants in an improper and dangerous place, such as a fallopian tube or the abdominal cavity. Just as an ultrasound is part of regular prenatal care, it’s essential even if a woman has chosen an abortion. Without an early ultrasound, she cannot be diagnosed, and she may experience the hemorrhaging and shock that can result from untreated ectopic pregnancy.

Miscalculated Gestational Age 
The abortion pills are contraindicated after a certain point of pregnancy (with the point depending on the type of pills), and without an ultrasound, women may easily miscalculate how far along they are. Taking the pills too late in pregnancy decreases their effectiveness and increases the risk of life-threatening complications.

In addition, a misjudged gestational age may affect a woman’s decision to get an abortion. Some women are more opposed to the procedure later in pregnancy, and without an ultrasound, she will not have accurate information to make her decision.


So, Why Would Anybody Support This? 
Again, abortion advocates insist that they care deeply about women, but this latest step makes clear that safety is lower on their list of priorities than they imply. Furthermore, for people who tout their belief in choice for (and trust of) women, they seem remarkably unconcerned about making sure these women are making informed decisions. As they have so many times in the past, they have once again proven that their real goal is to protect their lucrative industry at any cost to others. And once again, both their unborn children and the women themselves will pay the price.

[Today’s guest post by Aubrey Wursten is part of our paid blogging program.]

Who needs an ultrasound? DIY chemical abortion is here.

In 1996, the Clintons used the phrase “safe, legal, and rare” to describe the supposed goal for abortions. Since then, many people have dropped the “rare” from their list of stated expectations, but they have continued to proclaim that they are concerned about the safety of women getting abortions. In fact, a primary purported reason for keeping abortion legal has always been the prevention of do-it-yourself, “back-alley” procedures.

In what could certainly be seen as a contradiction, some of these same people have petitioned to increasingly remove medical professionals from the abortions themselves. Not only have these activists dodged efforts to hold abortion centers to the same standards as other medical facilities, but in Canada, they have now legalized self-managed chemical abortions. Until now, patients were required to receive an ultrasound before being prescribed the abortion pills, but the government has done away with this mandate.

“Sexual health advocates” were quick to praise this action, noting that it would remove a possible barrier to abortion for women who had difficulty scheduling an ultrasound. But what it has also removed is a vital safety check that keeps women likely to be harmed by the medication from taking it. So… what could go wrong?

Undiagnosed Ectopic Pregnancy 
One of the main reasons for the ultrasound requirement (currently still in place for the United States) is to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. In this life-threatening condition, the zygote implants in an improper and dangerous place, such as a fallopian tube or the abdominal cavity. Just as an ultrasound is part of regular prenatal care, it’s essential even if a woman has chosen an abortion. Without an early ultrasound, she cannot be diagnosed, and she may experience the hemorrhaging and shock that can result from untreated ectopic pregnancy.

Miscalculated Gestational Age 
The abortion pills are contraindicated after a certain point of pregnancy (with the point depending on the type of pills), and without an ultrasound, women may easily miscalculate how far along they are. Taking the pills too late in pregnancy decreases their effectiveness and increases the risk of life-threatening complications.

In addition, a misjudged gestational age may affect a woman’s decision to get an abortion. Some women are more opposed to the procedure later in pregnancy, and without an ultrasound, she will not have accurate information to make her decision.


So, Why Would Anybody Support This? 
Again, abortion advocates insist that they care deeply about women, but this latest step makes clear that safety is lower on their list of priorities than they imply. Furthermore, for people who tout their belief in choice for (and trust of) women, they seem remarkably unconcerned about making sure these women are making informed decisions. As they have so many times in the past, they have once again proven that their real goal is to protect their lucrative industry at any cost to others. And once again, both their unborn children and the women themselves will pay the price.

[Today’s guest post by Aubrey Wursten is part of our paid blogging program.]

Recent headlines roundup: abortion pill reversal, billboards, pro-life Democrats, “cryptic” pregnancies

Abortion will be considered unthinkable 50 years from now  Vox, 4/4/19. Didn’t expect an article like this from Vox.

Kansas lawmakers OK mandating notice on abortion ‘reversal’ News Tribune, 4/7/19. Notice they never say research led by “an abortion-rights doctor” or even “a pro-choice doctor” when the situation is reversed. They just say “doctor” and leave out implications of political bias.

They base their arguments on a 2018 study led by an anti-abortion doctor and medical school professor in California and note progesterone has been used for decades to prevent miscarriages.

With ‘Unplanned,’ Abortion Opponents Turn Toward Hollywood New York Times, 4/8/19. Decent summary. We tip our hats to all the people who worked hard to get this film out there.

Molly Livingstone, a social media marketer in Dallas, organized about 170 people from her church to attend an early screening of the movie. It so struck her, she said, that she was moved to volunteer for an anti-abortion pregnancy center.

New billboard: “Welcome to Illinois, where you can get a safe, legal abortion” CNY Central, 4/8/19. Hope Clinic of Illinois put up this billboard on the border between Illinois and Missouri as commentary on Missouri’s more restrictive abortion laws. According to Guttmacher, Illinois’ abortion rate is 87% higher than Missouri’s (Illinois has 15 abortions per 1,000 women age 15-44 while Missouri has 8).

Is our political divide, at heart, really all about abortion? Yahoo News, 4/9/19. It’s frustrating when your primary social circles don’t share your pro-life views. I’m glad we at least have online communities to help the pro-life “non-traditionals” (secularists, LGBT, Democrats, liberals, feminists, etc etc) coalesce.

A 2008 study in the journal Political Research Quarterly found that while [political] defections were uncommon, when all else was equal, a “pro-life” Democrat was more than twice as likely to switch parties than the average. A “pro-choice” Republican, over time, was three times as likely to re-identify as a Democrat, the researchers found. “[I]t is difficult to think of many other issues that would rival [abortion] in the capacity to influence partisanship,” they wrote.

Louisiana Introduced A “Heartbeat” Abortion Ban That’s Sponsored By A Democrat Bustle, 4/9/19. Always happy to see Democrats take pro-life action. If you’re in Louisiana consider dropping Senator John Milkovich a thank you note: milkovichj@legis.la.gov

The White House Is Hosting a Screening of the Gory Anti-Abortion Film Gosnell Slate, 4/9/19. For those of you who saw Gosnell, did you consider it “gory”?

The Women Who Gave Birth Without Knowing They Were Pregnant Vice, 4/10/19. These stories about “cryptic pregnancies” (pregnancies that are wholly undetected until either very late or when the woman actually goes into labor) are really bizarre. This quote caught my eye:

All three women are surprised at how well they’ve taken to parenting, shushing cries, mopping up dribbling mouths and tending to bumps while I interviewed them, despite never wanting to have children and using birth control to actively stop that from happening. They all say that things definitely would have been different if they’d had a detectable pregnancy. “I would have had an abortion to be fair,” Beth says. “But I couldn’t imagine that at all now.

Fresno State Students for Life club helps save unborn baby from abortion The College Fix, 4/12/19. Three good stories wrapped into one: (1) a college student chooses life and (2) in the process becomes a pro-life advocate, and (3) a pro-choice professor’s aggression toward’s the Fresno State Students for Life ironically leads to the group’s expansion and renewed commitment. Oh, also the professor paid $17,000 in a settlement over the incident, so there’s that.

Recent headlines roundup: abortion pill reversal, billboards, pro-life Democrats, “cryptic” pregnancies

Abortion will be considered unthinkable 50 years from now  Vox, 4/4/19. Didn’t expect an article like this from Vox.

Kansas lawmakers OK mandating notice on abortion ‘reversal’ News Tribune, 4/7/19. Notice they never say research led by “an abortion-rights doctor” or even “a pro-choice doctor” when the situation is reversed. They just say “doctor” and leave out implications of political bias.

They base their arguments on a 2018 study led by an anti-abortion doctor and medical school professor in California and note progesterone has been used for decades to prevent miscarriages.

With ‘Unplanned,’ Abortion Opponents Turn Toward Hollywood New York Times, 4/8/19. Decent summary. We tip our hats to all the people who worked hard to get this film out there.

Molly Livingstone, a social media marketer in Dallas, organized about 170 people from her church to attend an early screening of the movie. It so struck her, she said, that she was moved to volunteer for an anti-abortion pregnancy center.

New billboard: “Welcome to Illinois, where you can get a safe, legal abortion” CNY Central, 4/8/19. Hope Clinic of Illinois put up this billboard on the border between Illinois and Missouri as commentary on Missouri’s more restrictive abortion laws. According to Guttmacher, Illinois’ abortion rate is 87% higher than Missouri’s (Illinois has 15 abortions per 1,000 women age 15-44 while Missouri has 8).

Is our political divide, at heart, really all about abortion? Yahoo News, 4/9/19. It’s frustrating when your primary social circles don’t share your pro-life views. I’m glad we at least have online communities to help the pro-life “non-traditionals” (secularists, LGBT, Democrats, liberals, feminists, etc etc) coalesce.

A 2008 study in the journal Political Research Quarterly found that while [political] defections were uncommon, when all else was equal, a “pro-life” Democrat was more than twice as likely to switch parties than the average. A “pro-choice” Republican, over time, was three times as likely to re-identify as a Democrat, the researchers found. “[I]t is difficult to think of many other issues that would rival [abortion] in the capacity to influence partisanship,” they wrote.

Louisiana Introduced A “Heartbeat” Abortion Ban That’s Sponsored By A Democrat Bustle, 4/9/19. Always happy to see Democrats take pro-life action. If you’re in Louisiana consider dropping Senator John Milkovich a thank you note: milkovichj@legis.la.gov

The White House Is Hosting a Screening of the Gory Anti-Abortion Film Gosnell Slate, 4/9/19. For those of you who saw Gosnell, did you consider it “gory”?

The Women Who Gave Birth Without Knowing They Were Pregnant Vice, 4/10/19. These stories about “cryptic pregnancies” (pregnancies that are wholly undetected until either very late or when the woman actually goes into labor) are really bizarre. This quote caught my eye:

All three women are surprised at how well they’ve taken to parenting, shushing cries, mopping up dribbling mouths and tending to bumps while I interviewed them, despite never wanting to have children and using birth control to actively stop that from happening. They all say that things definitely would have been different if they’d had a detectable pregnancy. “I would have had an abortion to be fair,” Beth says. “But I couldn’t imagine that at all now.

Fresno State Students for Life club helps save unborn baby from abortion The College Fix, 4/12/19. Three good stories wrapped into one: (1) a college student chooses life and (2) in the process becomes a pro-life advocate, and (3) a pro-choice professor’s aggression toward’s the Fresno State Students for Life ironically leads to the group’s expansion and renewed commitment. Oh, also the professor paid $17,000 in a settlement over the incident, so there’s that.

Male abuser gets abortion pills online; vendor shows no remorse


Mother Jones has an article in its April/May issue entitled “She Started Selling Abortion Pills Online. Then the Feds Showed Up.”

Quick pause for alternate headlines that more accurately capture the tone of the piece:
  • She Broke The Law. But It Was An Abortion Law, So It Shouldn’t Have Counted.
  • Evil Police Fail to Recognize That Brave Abortion Provider is Above the Law. 
  • Abortion Access Uber Alles 
Anyway, moving on. The article is about Ursula Wing, who sold abortion drugs out of her apartment and advertised in the comments section of a blog. This is, unsurprisingly, illegal. As stated in the article, abortion drugs “may be distributed only in a clinical setting by a certified provider” per FDA regulations. 
Ms. Wing did it anyway, because “she needed money to pay legal fees during a protracted custody dispute with her former partner.” She didn’t see herself as an activist at first, although she was an abortion supporter and had herself terminated the life of one of her children with drugs purchased over the internet before becoming a vendor.
She sold abortion drugs to over 2,000 customers before finally getting caught. And how was she caught? Glad you asked:

An attorney told her that the FDA learned about her business when a Wisconsin man named Jeffrey Smith was arrested in February 2018 for allegedly slipping mifepristone into the drink of a woman who was pregnant with their child. Smith had twice ordered packages from Wing’s site, according to police documents. He has pleaded not guilty to attempted first-degree homicide of an unborn child. Wing is still waiting to be indicted.

If Ms. Wing were actually “pro-choice,” actually a feminist, actually cared at all about women, you’d think she would be horrified that her product was used to end a wanted pregnancy against a woman’s will. You’d expect, at the very least, some discussion of how online abortion vendors might verify that their customers are actually pregnant. (Kind of like those FDA-certified people verify in a “clinical setting.” Gosh, might there be a reason for that requirement?)
But no, of course not.

Among people advocating or providing access to self-managed abortion, there is some tension between those who aim to serve women in need without drawing attention and those who want to stir things up. Wing has found herself unexpectedly in the latter group. She was glad to go on quietly undermining the law, providing pills to customers who came across her website. Now, against her own attorney’s advice, she’s speaking out. “I want some copycats,” she says. “There’s not enough people doing this.”

She wants copycats. She wants more women put at risk. She thinks she’s a hero
I hope Ms. Wing is indicted as an accessory to homicide, and soon, before anyone else gets hurt.
P.S.—In October 2017, the ACLU sued the FDA to get rid of the abortion drug restrictions. If the ACLU is successful, abortion will become even more “accessible” to abusive men. The lawsuit is ongoing.

Male abuser gets abortion pills online; vendor shows no remorse


Mother Jones has an article in its April/May issue entitled “She Started Selling Abortion Pills Online. Then the Feds Showed Up.”

Quick pause for alternate headlines that more accurately capture the tone of the piece:
  • She Broke The Law. But It Was An Abortion Law, So It Shouldn’t Have Counted.
  • Evil Police Fail to Recognize That Brave Abortion Provider is Above the Law. 
  • Abortion Access Uber Alles 
Anyway, moving on. The article is about Ursula Wing, who sold abortion drugs out of her apartment and advertised in the comments section of a blog. This is, unsurprisingly, illegal. As stated in the article, abortion drugs “may be distributed only in a clinical setting by a certified provider” per FDA regulations. 
Ms. Wing did it anyway, because “she needed money to pay legal fees during a protracted custody dispute with her former partner.” She didn’t see herself as an activist at first, although she was an abortion supporter and had herself terminated the life of one of her children with drugs purchased over the internet before becoming a vendor.
She sold abortion drugs to over 2,000 customers before finally getting caught. And how was she caught? Glad you asked:

An attorney told her that the FDA learned about her business when a Wisconsin man named Jeffrey Smith was arrested in February 2018 for allegedly slipping mifepristone into the drink of a woman who was pregnant with their child. Smith had twice ordered packages from Wing’s site, according to police documents. He has pleaded not guilty to attempted first-degree homicide of an unborn child. Wing is still waiting to be indicted.

If Ms. Wing were actually “pro-choice,” actually a feminist, actually cared at all about women, you’d think she would be horrified that her product was used to end a wanted pregnancy against a woman’s will. You’d expect, at the very least, some discussion of how online abortion vendors might verify that their customers are actually pregnant. (Kind of like those FDA-certified people verify in a “clinical setting.” Gosh, might there be a reason for that requirement?)
But no, of course not.

Among people advocating or providing access to self-managed abortion, there is some tension between those who aim to serve women in need without drawing attention and those who want to stir things up. Wing has found herself unexpectedly in the latter group. She was glad to go on quietly undermining the law, providing pills to customers who came across her website. Now, against her own attorney’s advice, she’s speaking out. “I want some copycats,” she says. “There’s not enough people doing this.”

She wants copycats. She wants more women put at risk. She thinks she’s a hero
I hope Ms. Wing is indicted as an accessory to homicide, and soon, before anyone else gets hurt.
P.S.—In October 2017, the ACLU sued the FDA to get rid of the abortion drug restrictions. If the ACLU is successful, abortion will become even more “accessible” to abusive men. The lawsuit is ongoing.

Chemical Abortion and the Law

You may have read that last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a law regulating chemical abortion in Arkansas. The law requires chemical abortion vendors to partner with doctors who have hospital admitting privileges. As a result, two Arkansas abortion centers that do only chemical (and not surgical) abortions, and which cannot find willing partners, are expected to shut down.

This is encouraging not only for Arkansas—where at least 608 chemical abortions took place in 2014, the last year for which data is available—but for the pro-life movement nationally. The implications are significant.

Over the last few years, the abortion lobby has emphasized the strategy of expanding chemical abortion. Industry-friendly publications like Marie Claire and The Guardian have openly mused about a future in which abortion pills are available over the counter, bypassing clinics and all the regulation that goes with them.

This would be disastrous not only for the babies at risk of death and the women at risk of complications, but also for women with wanted pregnancies. There is simply no way to increase access to abortion pills for women without also increasing it for abusive men, who have already shown their willingness to force chemical abortions by slipping pills into their partners’ drinks. And those cases are just the tip of the iceberg; since chemical abortion mimics a natural miscarriage, most victims have no idea what has happened.

Last October, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Hawai’i, seeking to make abortion pills available in retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreen’s. Although this case doesn’t involve removing the prescription requirement (yet), other safeguards to screen out abusers—such as the requirements that vendors receive training and certification from the manufacturer, maintain signed patient agreement forms, and supervise the dispensation of the pills—are very much on the ACLU’s chopping block. Those legal proceedings have been delayed, and the government defendants are expected to respond by the end of this month.

It’s hard to believe that the Supreme Court which declined to intervene in the Arkansas chemical abortion case would buy the ACLU’s arguments for chemical abortion expansion in the Hawai’i case. Stranger things have happened, and Secular Pro-Life will continue to monitor the proceedings, but I would not be feeling optimistic if I were an ACLU attorney. That’s bad news for abusers, and great news for mothers and children.

Chemical Abortion and the Law

You may have read that last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a law regulating chemical abortion in Arkansas. The law requires chemical abortion vendors to partner with doctors who have hospital admitting privileges. As a result, two Arkansas abortion centers that do only chemical (and not surgical) abortions, and which cannot find willing partners, are expected to shut down.

This is encouraging not only for Arkansas—where at least 608 chemical abortions took place in 2014, the last year for which data is available—but for the pro-life movement nationally. The implications are significant.

Over the last few years, the abortion lobby has emphasized the strategy of expanding chemical abortion. Industry-friendly publications like Marie Claire and The Guardian have openly mused about a future in which abortion pills are available over the counter, bypassing clinics and all the regulation that goes with them.

This would be disastrous not only for the babies at risk of death and the women at risk of complications, but also for women with wanted pregnancies. There is simply no way to increase access to abortion pills for women without also increasing it for abusive men, who have already shown their willingness to force chemical abortions by slipping pills into their partners’ drinks. And those cases are just the tip of the iceberg; since chemical abortion mimics a natural miscarriage, most victims have no idea what has happened.

Last October, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Hawai’i, seeking to make abortion pills available in retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreen’s. Although this case doesn’t involve removing the prescription requirement (yet), other safeguards to screen out abusers—such as the requirements that vendors receive training and certification from the manufacturer, maintain signed patient agreement forms, and supervise the dispensation of the pills—are very much on the ACLU’s chopping block. Those legal proceedings have been delayed, and the government defendants are expected to respond by the end of this month.

It’s hard to believe that the Supreme Court which declined to intervene in the Arkansas chemical abortion case would buy the ACLU’s arguments for chemical abortion expansion in the Hawai’i case. Stranger things have happened, and Secular Pro-Life will continue to monitor the proceedings, but I would not be feeling optimistic if I were an ACLU attorney. That’s bad news for abusers, and great news for mothers and children.

Study confirms safety, efficacy of abortion pill reversal

A peer-reviewed study published in Issues in Law and Medicine confirms that the abortion pill reversal protocol can, when administered promptly, block the effects of a chemical abortion and allow children to grow to term.

A little background. “The abortion pill” is a misnomer. Chemical abortions actually consist of two medications. The first, mifepristone, blocks the crucial pregnancy hormone progesterone. Without adequate progesterone, the endometrium breaks down and the embryo’s nutrient supply is destroyed, which causes the embryo to detach and die. The second, misoprostol, expels the embryo’s body. The abortion pill reversal protocol is used when a woman takes the first pill, then changes her mind. The reversal technique involves the administration of extra, synthetic progesterone to supplement the woman’s natural progesterone and overwhelm the anti-progesterone effect of the mifepristone.

As we’ve pointed out before, synthetic progesterone has been around for a long time and is a standard treatment for low progesterone in pregnant mothers. The fact that a woman’s low progesterone is caused by mifepristone, rather than by some internal cause, does not change the mechanics of the treatment. The abortion pill reversal protocol has been portrayed as “experimental,” when it’s really just an application of existing treatments to a relatively new situation. (Chemical abortion was not approved in the United States until 2000; the reversal protocol was launched in 2009.)

Therefore, the results of the Issues in Law and Medicine study do not come as a surprise for anyone who’s been paying close attention. However, there are two aspects of it that deserve special notice.

First, it should forever put to rest the pro-abortion argument that mifepristone is usually ineffective on its own (with the second pill, misoprostol, apparently doing the real work), so the reversal protocol amounts to a placebo. I’ve always found “we’re selling women a pill that doesn’t actually do anything” to be a questionable defense, but setting aside the ethics of it, it’s factually wrong. Previous studies found that without any intervention—that is, if a woman changes her mind and doesn’t take the second pill, but doesn’t seek any help for the first pill she’s already taken—the embryo only survives 25% of the time. But with the abortion pill reversal intervention, administered less than 72 hours after the mifepristone was taken, survival rates are nearly twice that at 48%. The abortion pill reversal protocol is significantly more effective when given orally at a high dose (68%) or intramuscularly (64-100% depending on dosage); vaginal administration of progesterone was considerably less effective, bringing down the overall average, and I expect it will not be used going forward based on this study. The age of the embryo also made a difference, with older embryos being much more likely to survive than younger ones.

Second, the study found no evidence that the abortion pill reversal protocol creates any risk to the child. The birth defects rate for children born after an abortion pill reversal was no different than the general population. They were also far less likely to be born prematurely, perhaps a side effect of more careful medical monitoring than the average mother receives in pregnancy.

In response, Slate‘s Ruth Graham wrote an article acknowledging the safety and efficacy of the abortion pill reversal protocol, but nevertheless expressing skepticism. The article was titled “Abortion Reversal Seems Possible. We Still Shouldn’t Promote It.” Graham has written about Secular Pro-Life before and I found her to be fair; I suspect that the headline came from an editor, not from Graham herself. Still, this article is disappointing. She writes:

Regardless of whether abortion-pill reversal works, it’s important to note that the percentage of women who regret a medication abortion halfway through is decidedly tiny. [The abortion pill reversal] hotline received 1,668 calls between June 2012 and June 2016 … Meanwhile, medication abortions now make up almost half of all abortions in the United States, according to a Reuters analysis in 2016. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest count, 123,254 women underwent the procedure in 43 states in 2014—a very conservative estimate, since large states including California and Illinois didn’t report their numbers … Even going with these incomplete numbers, the number of women who regret their medication abortion halfway through clocks in at just 0.3 percent, with fewer than half asking for the reversal.

She misses the obvious point—women can’t request a treatment they don’t know about! Pro-life organizations have promoted the protocol with word of mouth and an online presence, but it’s not like we have multi-million-dollar advertising budgets. Of those who do know about it, many have likely been dissuaded by the years of false accusations that the protocol is “experimental” or no better than doing nothing (including a recent billboard campaign). Only four states currently require disclosures about the abortion pill reversal protocol as part of their informed consent laws, and those four states account for just 2.1% of abortions in the United States.* Graham’s argument becomes circular: few women make use of this, therefore we shouldn’t promote it, therefore few women will make use of it, therefore we shouldn’t promote it…

She also writes that “the goal when administering the abortion pill should be to make sure patients feel fully confident in the decision, rather than telling them they can always undo it later if they change their mind.” Dave Andrusko of the National Right to Life Committee pilloried this quote in particular, saying: “You have to keep the abortion train rolling. Don’t tell a woman she could have a second chance. She might take it!” His interpretation is valid, but interestingly, I’ve heard sidewalk counselors express a similar sentiment: that they don’t talk about abortion pill reversal (or other post-abortion resources) on a woman’s way into an abortion facility, but only as she is leaving.

The ideal outcome is for a woman not to take the mifepristone at all, and suggesting that she “can always undo it” might make her more cavalier about the decision. I am thankful for the abortion pill reversal protocol and applaud the pro-life medical professionals who have developed and promoted it. But as effective as it is, it does not save the child’s life 100% of the time. It is only one tool in our toolbox.

If you are pregnant and have taken the first pill of the chemical abortion regimen, call the Abortion Pill Reversal hotline right away at 877-558-0333.



*Graham’s article refers to ten states which have introduced such laws, but according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, only four have actually implemented them: Arizona, Arkansas, South Dakota, and Utah. Those states had a combined total of 20,880 abortions in 2014 (AZ 12,780/1.2%; AK 4,590/0.5%; SD 550/0.1%; UT 2,960/0.3%). 2014 is the most recent year for which complete Guttmacher data is available. Note that many of those 20,880 abortions were presumably surgical, not chemical, making the reversal protocol inapplicable; unfortunately, I could not find that data at the state level.

Study confirms safety, efficacy of abortion pill reversal

A peer-reviewed study published in Issues in Law and Medicine confirms that the abortion pill reversal protocol can, when administered promptly, block the effects of a chemical abortion and allow children to grow to term.

A little background. “The abortion pill” is a misnomer. Chemical abortions actually consist of two medications. The first, mifepristone, blocks the crucial pregnancy hormone progesterone. Without adequate progesterone, the endometrium breaks down and the embryo’s nutrient supply is destroyed, which causes the embryo to detach and die. The second, misoprostol, expels the embryo’s body. The abortion pill reversal protocol is used when a woman takes the first pill, then changes her mind. The reversal technique involves the administration of extra, synthetic progesterone to supplement the woman’s natural progesterone and overwhelm the anti-progesterone effect of the mifepristone.

As we’ve pointed out before, synthetic progesterone has been around for a long time and is a standard treatment for low progesterone in pregnant mothers. The fact that a woman’s low progesterone is caused by mifepristone, rather than by some internal cause, does not change the mechanics of the treatment. The abortion pill reversal protocol has been portrayed as “experimental,” when it’s really just an application of existing treatments to a relatively new situation. (Chemical abortion was not approved in the United States until 2000; the reversal protocol was launched in 2009.)

Therefore, the results of the Issues in Law and Medicine study do not come as a surprise for anyone who’s been paying close attention. However, there are two aspects of it that deserve special notice.

First, it should forever put to rest the pro-abortion argument that mifepristone is usually ineffective on its own (with the second pill, misoprostol, apparently doing the real work), so the reversal protocol amounts to a placebo. I’ve always found “we’re selling women a pill that doesn’t actually do anything” to be a questionable defense, but setting aside the ethics of it, it’s factually wrong. Previous studies found that without any intervention—that is, if a woman changes her mind and doesn’t take the second pill, but doesn’t seek any help for the first pill she’s already taken—the embryo only survives 25% of the time. But with the abortion pill reversal intervention, administered less than 72 hours after the mifepristone was taken, survival rates are nearly twice that at 48%. The abortion pill reversal protocol is significantly more effective when given orally at a high dose (68%) or intramuscularly (64-100% depending on dosage); vaginal administration of progesterone was considerably less effective, bringing down the overall average, and I expect it will not be used going forward based on this study. The age of the embryo also made a difference, with older embryos being much more likely to survive than younger ones.

Second, the study found no evidence that the abortion pill reversal protocol creates any risk to the child. The birth defects rate for children born after an abortion pill reversal was no different than the general population. They were also far less likely to be born prematurely, perhaps a side effect of more careful medical monitoring than the average mother receives in pregnancy.

In response, Slate‘s Ruth Graham wrote an article acknowledging the safety and efficacy of the abortion pill reversal protocol, but nevertheless expressing skepticism. The article was titled “Abortion Reversal Seems Possible. We Still Shouldn’t Promote It.” Graham has written about Secular Pro-Life before and I found her to be fair; I suspect that the headline came from an editor, not from Graham herself. Still, this article is disappointing. She writes:

Regardless of whether abortion-pill reversal works, it’s important to note that the percentage of women who regret a medication abortion halfway through is decidedly tiny. [The abortion pill reversal] hotline received 1,668 calls between June 2012 and June 2016 … Meanwhile, medication abortions now make up almost half of all abortions in the United States, according to a Reuters analysis in 2016. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest count, 123,254 women underwent the procedure in 43 states in 2014—a very conservative estimate, since large states including California and Illinois didn’t report their numbers … Even going with these incomplete numbers, the number of women who regret their medication abortion halfway through clocks in at just 0.3 percent, with fewer than half asking for the reversal.

She misses the obvious point—women can’t request a treatment they don’t know about! Pro-life organizations have promoted the protocol with word of mouth and an online presence, but it’s not like we have multi-million-dollar advertising budgets. Of those who do know about it, many have likely been dissuaded by the years of false accusations that the protocol is “experimental” or no better than doing nothing (including a recent billboard campaign). Only four states currently require disclosures about the abortion pill reversal protocol as part of their informed consent laws, and those four states account for just 2.1% of abortions in the United States.* Graham’s argument becomes circular: few women make use of this, therefore we shouldn’t promote it, therefore few women will make use of it, therefore we shouldn’t promote it…

She also writes that “the goal when administering the abortion pill should be to make sure patients feel fully confident in the decision, rather than telling them they can always undo it later if they change their mind.” Dave Andrusko of the National Right to Life Committee pilloried this quote in particular, saying: “You have to keep the abortion train rolling. Don’t tell a woman she could have a second chance. She might take it!” His interpretation is valid, but interestingly, I’ve heard sidewalk counselors express a similar sentiment: that they don’t talk about abortion pill reversal (or other post-abortion resources) on a woman’s way into an abortion facility, but only as she is leaving.

The ideal outcome is for a woman not to take the mifepristone at all, and suggesting that she “can always undo it” might make her more cavalier about the decision. I am thankful for the abortion pill reversal protocol and applaud the pro-life medical professionals who have developed and promoted it. But as effective as it is, it does not save the child’s life 100% of the time. It is only one tool in our toolbox.

If you are pregnant and have taken the first pill of the chemical abortion regimen, call the Abortion Pill Reversal hotline right away at 877-558-0333.



*Graham’s article refers to ten states which have introduced such laws, but according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, only four have actually implemented them: Arizona, Arkansas, South Dakota, and Utah. Those states had a combined total of 20,880 abortions in 2014 (AZ 12,780/1.2%; AK 4,590/0.5%; SD 550/0.1%; UT 2,960/0.3%). 2014 is the most recent year for which complete Guttmacher data is available. Note that many of those 20,880 abortions were presumably surgical, not chemical, making the reversal protocol inapplicable; unfortunately, I could not find that data at the state level.