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Despite “inconsistent,” “hypocritical” complaints, UK doc banned from providing APR committed to honoring women’s choice Sarah Chai/Pexels

Despite “inconsistent,” “hypocritical” complaints, UK doc banned from providing APR committed to honoring women’s choice

From June 2020 to April 2021, 92 UK women sought out Dr. Dermot Kearney for assistance with a choice they had made. 

All had started the chemical abortion process and then wanted to explore a different choice – one to interrupt the abortion process and save the lives of their babies. In response, Kearney offered them a medical treatment – Abortion Pill Reversal - to honor that choice.

Today, though, if a woman in the UK takes the first pill in the chemical abortion process and then decides she doesn’t want an abortion, Kearney – a UK consultant cardiologist and general medical physician - cannot help her.

He is now prohibited from providing this medical treatment.

Featured on Christian author and speaker Travis Rusko’s “A Fairly Important Podcast” earlier this past summer, Kearney discussed the Abortion Pill Reversal (APR) process, a treatment not available in the UK when Kearney first learned of it back in 2014.

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At that time, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) did not provide any type of APR treatment.

The only options then were to not take the second abortion drug (misoprostol) – which Kearney stated gave a “20 to 25% chance” of survival for the baby - or to connect with a pro-life organization that had connections with what Kearney called “basically a back street clinic,” to “secretly be given progesterone.” 

The process was expensive and lacked follow-up.

“We felt we had to do something"

So, Kearney spent the next five years researching APR.

The APR protocol is used to save the baby’s life, if, after taking the first medication (mifepristone), the woman does not take misoprostol, but instead begins a medical protocol of progesterone. 

Pro-life organizations started contacting Kearney seeking help for women wanting to save their babies. 

“We felt we had to do something,” Kearney said, referring to himself and fellow-UK OB/GYN Dr. Eileen Reilly.

The doctors became involved in the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN). 

Kearney explained the process when women in the UK contacted Heartbeat International’s 24/7 Helpline seeking to reverse the chemical abortion regimen. They were connected with Kearney, who explained the reversal process.

"We were very open” 

With the woman’s consent, Kearney then emailed a prescription for progesterone to a pharmacy close to her. 

“This was not a hidden covert operation. We were very open,” Kearney stated. 

He recalled giving “a full explanation to the parliamentary committee” regarding at-home chemical abortions and the APR service. 

“We were doing our own audit, and we were going to report at the end of 12 months,” Kearney said. 

Before the 12 months were up, though, UK abortion providers took objection to the doctors’ practice of APR, issuing a complaint through the General Medical Council (GMC). 

The complaint resulted in banning the doctors from providing the APR treatment. 

The abortion pill, also known as medical abortion, chemical abortion, RU-486, DIY, or self-managed abortion, is a two-drug process.

The first drug, mifepristone, destabilizes the pregnancy by blocking progesterone, the natural hormone in a woman’s body that sustains a pregnancy. This typically ends the unborn child’s life. The second drug, misoprostol, taken a day or so later, causes the mother to deliver her deceased child.

If a woman regrets starting a chemical abortion and acts quickly enough, it may be possible to save her unborn child through APR, which uses an updated application of the decades-old treatment used to prevent miscarriage - administration of progesterone.

“It is an honor to work closely with Drs. Reilly and Kearney as physicians in the Abortion Pill Rescue Network” 

The Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN) is managed by Heartbeat International, and reports that statistics show to date more than 2,500 lives have been saved through APR.

Christa Brown, director of Medical Impact with Heartbeat International, provided a statement to Pregnancy Help News, affirming the UK doctors and their work with the APRN.

“It is an honor to work closely with Drs. Reilly and Kearney as physicians in the Abortion Pill Rescue Network,” she said.

“The patients they helped were always thankful for the care they received,” Brown added, “care provided with the health of the mother and child in mind.” 

“The only complaints against these doctors were from abortion providers,” she said, “those with a different agenda that does not involve helping women with choices.”

Further, Brown recognized the doctors as “shining examples of what medicine should be - always upholding ethical standards and putting their patients first.”

During the podcast, Kearney revisited the ban on his providing APR treatment. 

“I must not prescribe, administer or recommend progesterone for abortion reversal treatments,” he said.

He can still prescribe the medication to prevent a natural miscarriage, which has been a longtime common medical practice.

As to the reasons for the complaints, Kearney proposed, “I think it's mainly ideological…Nobody can explain to me why…pro-abortion groups would want to deny a woman's choice.”

"The woman has a decision,” Kearney explained. “She changed her mind. She's now made another decision. We were respecting her choice.” 

Tweet This: "The woman has a decision. She changed her mind. She's now made another decision. We were respecting her choice.” - APR doc

During the podcast, Kearney addressed the specific concerns mentioned in the complaints against him and Reilly. 

One complaint centered on prescribing remotely. Kearney called this objection “inconsistent” and “hypocritical,” since most abortion pills are prescribed in this manner, and it is not illegal to prescribe remotely in the UK.

Kearney also addressed the complaint that APR uses “unlicensed medication” not approved for the specific use of reversing an abortion. 

Progesterone is licensed for use, Kearney clarified, “but it's not licensed for abortion pill reversal.” 

“Many medications are used off-license,” Kearney said. “Misoprostol is not licensed for abortion.” 

Regarding the complaint of the lack of evidence for APR’s success, Kearney said there aren’t any large-scale randomized control trials. Trials of this type would “have very obvious ethical issues,” he noted, as some women would have to be “given a placebo when they wanted to save their babies.”

APR does have evidence of success though, Kearney asserted, pointing to observational studies including U.S. providers who have been providing this treatment over several years, with pregnancies saved in “more than 50% of the cases.”

“We know progesterone is safe for mother and baby in pregnancy,” Kearney added, pointing to the lives saved through APR

Dr. Dermot Kearney/Dermot Kearney

Kearney noted false statements included in the complaints - that he manipulated women by paying for the medications/ultrasounds they needed, while also claiming that he charged “exorbitant fees.” 

Kearney provided his services voluntarily and provided financial assistance if needed for the cost of the prescription or ultrasound. 

It is mifepristone “that causes bleeding, not progesterone”

To the complaint that APR caused bleeding, Kearney countered this, saying that it’s actually women who have undergone a chemical abortion who need medical assistance for bleeding, stating, there are “at least 500 women per month, every month, attending emergency departments in the UK with hemorrhage.”

Kearney clarified that it is the mifepristone “that causes bleeding, not progesterone.”

“Bleeding is very common after mifepristone has been taken in the first trimester, almost universal,” he told Pregnancy Help News, “with or without follow-up progesterone rescue treatment and with or without follow-up misoprostol.” 

“A small number (of women who take mifepristone) will require blood transfusions,” he continued, “with or without progesterone or misoprostol follow-up treatment, although the risk of heavy bleeding appears to be reduced by taking progesterone compared to expectant management alone.” 

“We know from a freedom of information investigation that 500 women in the UK require emergency hospital attendances every month after they have taken the combined abortion pills, mostly for incomplete abortion but some also for severe hemorrhaging and some for serious infections related to incomplete abortion,” Kearney said. “These are women who have not received APR rescue therapy. The exact numbers requiring emergency care following medical abortions are not known as the complications are greatly under-reported.”

Kearney said the complaint against the doctors also proposed that “we couldn't be trusted because we were Christians, that we were enforcing our beliefs on these vulnerable women,” 

But Kearney, who is Catholic, is clear - he “never mentioned religion,” when assisting with APR.

A number of women have added their testimonies to Kearney’s defense. 

Among them, “Laura,” credited Kearney with saving her son’s life: 

“Without Dr. Kearney's help, the alternative would have been horrific. I wouldn't have been able to forgive myself. I'd be racked with guilt, with the shame of what I did, for the rest of my life. He was so supportive, compassionate and completely non-judgmental – and there was no mention of religion.”

“We have received supportive witness statements from nine women to date and these have been submitted to the GMC as part of our evidence,” Kearney told Pregnancy Help News. “Many more are prepared to give additional supportive witness statements if necessary. The full statements of the nine mothers and many other supportive items are not available for the public to see at the moment.”

Tweet This: “Without Dr. Kearney's help, the alternative would have been horrific. He was so supportive, compassionate and completely non-judgmental"

Brown, too, recognized inconsistencies between the complaints and actual patient testimonies, stating, “we have been saddened by the discrimination against [these doctors].”

“Women are now forced to complete abortions they no longer desire,” Brown said, describing the consequences of the ban.

“Despite the proven safety record of progesterone and statistics accounting for more than 2,500 lives saved through the Abortion Pill Rescue Network,” Brown continued, “the women of the UK no longer have the right to make another choice.”

There's spiritual warfare going on

For now, Kearney awaits a hearing, which could ultimately decide if he can continue to practice as a doctor in the UK.

Kearney asked for continued prayers, noting, “there's a bigger picture out here… there's a spiritual warfare going on.” 

“I think it's very important that we pray for our opponents, people who were involved in the abortion industry themselves,” Kearney continued. “We need to pray for them that they will be inspired by the Holy Spirit to realize that what they're doing is not good and it's not right. And it's certainly not good for women or babies.”

Though Kearney cannot provide the APR treatment, UK women are still requesting the service.

“We continue to get calls, chats, and emails from women who have no help available to them because providers in the UK cannot prescribe progesterone to support a pregnancy after mifepristone,” Brown said. “The requests for reversal to our hotline come from women who are desperately trying to stop the abortion process, and many are shocked to learn that help is no longer available.”  

Tweet This: We continue to get calls, chats and emails from women who have no help available because UK providers cannot prescribe progesterone for APR

Though uncertain of the outcome of the upcoming hearing, Kearney is certain of his actions. 

“It is not the GMC I’m going to be standing before on Judgment Day,” he said.

Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN) and Pregnancy Help News.

Sherri Pigue

Sherri Pigue is a pregnancy help client advocate and has served on staff with pregnancy medical clinics in Texas and Virginia, consulting with hundreds of women and men as they make life decisions about their preborn children. Her experience as an advocate has afforded her opportunities to write, speak at events, and impact community awareness. She is a follower of Christ, wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend.