Over 4,000 lives have been saved through abortion pill reversal, according to statistics presented at the 2023 Heartbeat International pre-conference seminar, “DIY Abortion and the Hope of the APR Network.”
Presenters included George Delgado, MD; Brent Boles, MD; Brooke Myrick, RN; and Teresa Tholany, RN.
The presentation was part of an In-Depth Day of training in key areas for pregnancy help offered prior to the official start of the 52nd Annual Pregnancy Help Conference, the first post-Roe Conference.
Delgado, founder of the Steno Institute, helped pioneer abortion pill reversal using progesterone and established the Abortion Pill Reversal Network. Boles has been a practicing, board-certified OB/GYN for nearly three decades; he is now the Medical Director for both the Abortion Pill Rescue Network and Portico, a pregnancy center in Tennessee.
Abortion pill increases risks for women
Tholany, a Healthcare Team Manager with Heartbeat International, said the abortion pill has changed a woman’s experience of abortion.
"We used to know where abortion centers were located and what services they provided,” she said. “Now her own home is an abortion facility."
Myrick said, “Women may not even understand what they’ve started.”
And if they ordered the medication online and received no in-person care, she said, they “may not be prepared for this experience” which can involve painful cramping, heavy bleeding, and seeing the expelled baby.
In 2016 the FDA stopped collecting data on non-fatal adverse events following chemical abortion, but prior data showed abortion pills caused thousands of such events, including 768 hospitalizations and 24 deaths since 2000.
On average, Myrick noted, 5-8% of the FDA’s estimated 3.7 million women who used mifepristone need emergency room visits for complications. This translates into 185,000 women who have suffered and needed surgery and medical treatment as a result of chemical abortion.
“Under the best of circumstances, one in five chemical abortions can lead to complications; hemorrhage, incomplete abortion, or infection are the most common,” she said.
Citing the FDA’s rollback of precautionary restrictions on the use of mifepristone over the last three to four years, Tholany said abortion providers and the FDA are “prioritizing abortion over safety.”
Tweet This: Abortion providers and the FDA are “prioritizing abortion over safety” related to the chemical abortion pill
Science backs abortion pill reversal
Boles and other speakers decried the abortion industry’s deliberate attempts to mislead women into thinking chemical abortion is more natural than surgical abortion and as safe as taking Tylenol.
“I've seen women in the ER for blood transfusions after taking mifepristone, but not from taking Tylenol,” he said.
Tweet This: “I've seen women in the ER for blood transfusions after taking mifepristone, but not from taking Tylenol” - Dr. Brent Boles
Women report being told that “abortion is a one-way street;” reversing it will either fail or result in birth defects. Both Boles and Delgado presented evidence to the contrary.
“There are four avenues of evidence proving abortion pill reversal with progesterone is safe and effective,” Boles said.
He cited the basic science of hormonal function, animal data from a study in Japan, historical human data, and what Boles called human experience observations.
First, the medical concept of a hormone such as pregnancy-sustaining progesterone as a “key” in a hormone receptor “keyhole,” and of a “false key” like mifepristone trying to replace the key to block its functioning, is well established.
Abortion pill reversal simply uses a flood of progesterone to out-compete mifepristone for those receptor sites, allowing the pregnancy to continue unhindered.
Second, when Japanese researcher Dr. Yamabe conducted animal tests of mifepristone reversal with progesterone, the rats had 100% embryonic survival and none of the uterine cell changes observed in rats only given mifepristone, in which 70% embryonic demise and significant cellular change resulted.
Third, in a study of 500 women who received progesterone after mifepristone, 64-68% of them completed healthy pregnancies, with lower rates of birth defects than the general population (2.7% versus 3%).
While opponents cry foul over the lack of placebo-controlled studies of progesterone, Boles pointed out that cancer drug tests are not placebo-controlled either. To deprive a control group of life-saving treatment would be medically unethical.
Delgado said the one placebo-controlled abortion pill reversal study attempted by Dr. Mitchell Creinin had to be canceled due to dangerous adverse outcomes such as hemorrhaging among the women who received only a placebo after mifepristone.
The women who received progesterone after mifepristone needed no medical interventions.
Worth noting is that mifepristone itself was approved for abortion without randomized placebo-controlled studies, Delgado said.
He also indicated that further human data will be coming shortly from one study comparing two types of progesterone treatment (similar to the way cancer treatments are tested) and another that will involve a retroactive case series analysis.
Boles said that women also experienced an unexpected benefit when undergoing reversal by progesterone: “Only 2-3% deliver prematurely, compared to 10% of mothers in the general population.”
Finally, both Boles and Delgado touched on the indisputable and increasing list of over 4000 women who have successfully reversed their chemical abortions using progesterone. "There is no evidence progesterone is a risk for pregnancy,” Boles said. “It was used before Roe was ever passed."
The real risks being downplayed, Delgado said, lie in accessing chemical abortion by telemedicine and mail order. Without in-person medical care, women are more likely to suffer from dangerous complications due to incorrect gestational dating, a forgotten IUD, Rh incompatibility, or tubal pregnancy.
He pointed out that coerced abortion is another growing problem for women whose partners, abusers, or traffickers can order the abortion pill and force them to end their pregnancies without their consent.
What pregnancy help organizations can do
Both Tholany and Myrick encouraged their pro-life audience to consider multiple avenues for serving women who are considering chemical abortion. Offering ultrasound and other medical evaluations to women still deciding can help ward off the potential risks Delgado mentioned.
To reach women who have already begun a chemical abortion, pregnancy help organizations can also join the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN), currently 1300 providers strong and active in all 50 states and 86 countries.
“The need has never been greater,” they said. “More providers need to fill the map.” Several clinics and hospitals have already joined the network.
Pregnancy centers can join as either “prescribing centers” or “consulting/referring centers,” depending on whether their own medical personnel will prescribe the progesterone or refer that responsibility to a nearby health care provider in the network.
Heartbeat International offers centers a Provider Kit, which includes resources such as sample policies and procedures, communications, and the progesterone protocol. All can be suited to each center’s context.
Women seeking abortion pill reversal sometimes connect with participating centers directly. But many reach out to the abortion pill reversal hotline, where trained advocates can quickly locate a prescriber near the woman as well as a center where she can receive both evaluation and follow-up care.
Tholany and Myrick reminded centers that "women start an abortion for a variety of reasons, and just because she chose life doesn't mean those reasons went away." Centers must continue to support women as they return to those same circumstances.
In addition, alongside the 68% of reversals that succeed are one-third of attempts that fail. In those cases, centers must prepare to support women through their grief.
Lives are being saved
During the doctors’ morning presentation, a conference attendee requested prayer on behalf of a woman who had just reached out to her center in Georgia, asking for help reversing her chemical abortion. After the lunch break, she reported the woman had a prescription for progesterone in hand.
Chances are now good that mother will join the thousands of women with healthy pregnancies preserved by safe and effective abortion pill reversal.
It was officially confirmed during the Heartbeat Conference that to date more than 4,500 lives and counting have been saved thanks to the APRN.
Tweet This: More than 4,500 lives and counting have been saved thanks to the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network.
Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN) and Pregnancy Help News. Regular Heartbeat Conference workshop recordings can be purchased HERE.