Abortion Pill Reversal Procedure Will Be Put to the Test by UC Davis Researcher

pills spilling from bottle next to ultrasound pictures

With the seemingly-endless arguments over abortion, a new player has entered into the field offering a reversing agent for medication-induced abortions. But is this process grounded in scientific evidence? A new study may put those questions and concerns to the test.

Across the internet, there are websites promoting solutions for women who may regret taking the first round of chemical abortion medications. A chemical inducing abortion includes two round of drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, which are usually taken a day or two apart. The so-called abortion pill reversal is a potential answer for women who change their minds about chemical abortion, proponents of the technique claim. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the abortion pill reversal procedure can only be conducted after the first dose of a chemical abortion pill has been taken. If a second dose of the medicine has been taken, the APA claims the reversal process will not work.

According to the APA, the reversal process involves injecting a large amount of progesterone into a woman’s body. The first dose of mifepristone blocks the absorption of the hormone by the womb – a hormone the baby needs to survive. The second dose, which is taken about two days after the first dose, causes the contractions that expel the fetus. Those who tout the reversal process, claim that the massive injections of progesterone are effective in reversing about 55 percent of the abortions. However, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology said that about half of women who opt to not take the second dose of the abortion regimen continue their pregnancies regardless. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology notes that the reversal treatment is not supported by scientific research.

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Those claims are about to be put to the test. This morning, NPR¸ reported that a research grant has been given to a medical researcher and professor at the University of California, Davis to study the claims by proponents of the abortion pill reversal technique. Mitchell Creinin, NPR said, has spent the majority of his career in family planning research. Creinin will now investigate the claims of the reversal process, which he believes are dubious, NPR said. Creinin raised concerns about the massive injections of progesterone and also said he believed that “promotion of the treatment can be potentially harmful by giving pregnant women misleading information that an abortion can be undone,” NPR said.

Currently, there are several states that have made it a requirement for doctors who perform abortions to inform women that the reversal treatment is an option, NPR said. Those laws do not prevent doctors from disclosing whether or not they believe the reversal treatment is effective or safe.

In his interview with NPR, Creinin said he was concerned that those laws were passed with zero scientific evidence supporting the reversal process. Creinin said he wants to perform a formal study that can definitively answer the claims made by the reversal proponents. His study will involve 40 women who are between 44 and 63 days of pregnancy and are seeking to have a surgical abortion, NPR said.

“As a condition of the research, the women would have to be willing to take mifepristone, the initial pill that would normally trigger a medical abortion, and then a placebo or progesterone,” NPR reported.

Within two weeks, Creinin will check the women to see if there are any differences in the rates of continued pregnancy. He said if progesterone will prevent the effects of mifepristone, the study should show a marked difference in the women who have been provided that hormone as part of the study.

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