Anti-abortion in America The movement is in the news all over the place to reshape the country’s image. Its decades-long campaign to install compassionate Supreme Court justices paid off in June, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health The decision denies the constitutional right to abortion. Now, the movement is pushing for draconian personality laws (legislation giving fetuses the same rights as people) in an effort to create abortion murders.
In some states, the push is already working. In Georgia, for example, a new law allows prospective parents to list the fetus as a dependent on their tax return. These victories are the result of shrewd, ambitious strategies. The rise of an experimental treatment known as the abortion pill “reversal” is part of that plan. Although it may seem like a minor issue – almost no one actually seeks this treatment – it is a clearly inspiring pet project. The story of the rise of the abortion pill reversal contains a blueprint for the anti-abortion movement.
The first time I heard about it, I didn’t understand why the abortion pill reversal was the trigger for this culture war.It sounds like a rare thing that pro-choice and anti-abortion people can wholeheartedly agree on, a choose No abortion. Win, win. It also sounds simple: Medical abortion, now the main method of pregnancy termination in the United States, typically uses two pills. The first is mifepristone, which blocks progesterone, a hormone necessary for pregnancy. The second pill, misoprostol, is usually taken a day or two after the first pill. It causes the uterus to contract, triggering an intentional miscarriage. In abortion pill reversal, if someone starts an abortion by taking mifepristone and then changes their mind, they are given a course of progesterone as soon as possible to counteract the effects of mifepristone in hopes of stopping the abortion process. The reversal process is aimed at a very specific type of patient: someone who decides to start a medical abortion and takes the first pill but not the second.
The treatment was invented by a family medicine physician named George Delgado, making him one of the movement’s golden boys. According to 2017 New York Times Magazine In the article, Delgado had been using progesterone for years to help patients with fertility problems before hearing about a pregnant woman who was looking to stop a medical abortion and had started taking mifepristone through his circle of anti-abortion activists. He found a doctor who was willing to inject the woman with progesterone, and then what happened: The pregnancy continued. Encouraged by the results, Delgado continued to offer options when he saw the opportunity, setting up a hotline to attract potential patients.
He first published a small case study showing how he tested it on 6 women in 2012 and then a larger case series of 547 patients in 2018 (taking mifepristone, then changing his mind and Take a dose of progesterone instead of going through the abortion pill regime) as evidence that the treatment works. Almost half of the women gave birth to healthy babies, with those with longer pregnancies having the highest success rates. Selected patients took mifepristone for 72 hours or less and were at various stages of pregnancy. There was no control group, so this was a limited study, and the paper makes that clear. “It is unethical to conduct placebo-controlled trials on groups of women who regret having abortions and wish to save their pregnancy,” Delgado wrote. Still, the paper’s conclusions are general: it says the protocol is both efficient and secure.
Abortion pill reversal has become a central topic of the movement. Evangelists of this treatment include the anti-abortion association Heartbeat International, which supports the largest network of crisis pregnancy centers in the country. Many of these centers are deliberately located near abortion clinics and post signs promoting the reversal of the abortion pill to attract the attention of those preparing to terminate their pregnancies. The Ohio-based group also operates the Abortion Pill Rescue Network, which connects pregnant women with hundreds of medical professionals who will provide reversal options. They are very good at SEO – Google “abortion pill reversal” and this will be the first result. Heartbeat International claims that since 2012, more than 3,000 babies have been born after someone was given the progesterone to reverse an abortion. Its president, Jor-El Godsey, told Wired that the number of women accepting the reversal deal has been rising in recent years. Heartbeat International claims 1,091 women have successfully reversed abortions using the Abortion Pill Rescue Network in 2021, but the group did not share the demographic or geographic distribution of abortionists, or whether those who were unsuccessful had complications. No outside group or research group currently monitors and shares data on how many abortion pill reversals are accomplished.
Christina Francis, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Fort Wayne, Indiana, prescribes reversals herself, and is often contacted by the Abortion Pill Rescue Network. She thinks it’s both safe and scientific. “There is no increased risk of complications for the mother, nor the risk of birth defects for the baby,” she said, stressing that in order to keep a healthy pregnancy, pregnant women are often given progesterone for a variety of reasons. Francis’ passion for therapy was shared by her anti-abortion activists.
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