Early last year, antiabortion groups were overjoyed about a study that supposedly proved that medication abortions could be negated with progesterone therapy. Critics argued that the study was too flawed to conclude that Abortion Pill Reversal actually worked. Mifepristone, the first drug of a medication abortion which APR seeks to reverse the effects of, isn’t that great of an abortion method on its own, which is the reason for Misoprostol being included in the medication abortion regimen. The success of Abortion Pill Reversal may be due to the failure rate of Mifepristone.
Another major flaw was that the study was not a randomized placebo-controlled trial due to the unethical implications of giving placebos to women that regretted taking Mifepristone and wanted to save their pregnancies. Researchers from the UC Davis attempted the first-ever randomized clinical study on Abortion Pill Reversal to test the effectiveness of progesterone therapy to “reverse” the effects of Mifepristone. The trial intended to enroll 40 women who were planning a surgical abortion. These women would have taken Mifepristone two weeks before their scheduled appointment and then followed up with a regimen of progesterone or placebos until their appointment.
Twelve women had participated in the trial. Six of the women who had participated in the study had detectable heartbeats at the end of their progesterone or placebo regimen. Four had been on progesterone therapy and two were given placebos. To antiabortion supporters, this is an indication that Abortion Pill Reversal works. However, with Mifepristone not being that effective by itself, as many as half of women who only take Mifepristone continue their pregnancies. The original study on Abortion Pill Reversal reported that slightly under half of women on progesterone therapy continued their pregnancies. With half of the women in the clinical study having continued pregnancies after taking Mifepristone, there isn’t enough evidence from the study to conclude whether Abortion Pill Reversal works or if its success is the result of Mifepristone’s failure rate.
Enrollment in the study was halted due to safety concerns after three women were sent to the hospital for severe hemorrhaging. As two of the women were in the placebo group, Charlotte Lozier Institute accused the study of misleading people into thinking that Abortion Pill Reversal is dangerous. “Pro-abortion researchers would rather continue to mislead women about the real risks of the abortion pill regimen Mifeprex than protect them from the risks of this dangerous drug,” said Dr. Tara Sander Lee of the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
The study’s conclusion did list risks of Mifepristone and how safety concerns regarding those risks were the reason they could not determine the effectiveness of progesterone therapy:
“We could not estimate the efficacy of progesterone for mifepristone antagonization due to safety concerns when mifepristone is administered without subsequent prostaglandin analogue treatment. Patients in early pregnancy who use only mifepristone may be at high risk for significant hemorrhage. [emphasis added]”
As of right now, the risks of Abortion Pill Reversal are unknown. The original observational study concluded that progesterone therapy was safe for the fetus as there were a low number of birth effects, but gave zero information on how the women actually carrying the pregnancies were affected. APR may be potentially dangerous due to progesterone having a lot of side effects and the increased risk of blood clots, stroke heart attack, and breast cancer. With no data on how women who flooded their systems with progesterone were affected, we don’t know how safe the actual regimen actually is.
The halted clinical study may have indicated that not taking both pills in the medication abortion regimen is dangerous to a woman’s health. By extension, Abortion Pill Reversal could be dangerous as it’s only done on women who haven’t fully completed the process of medication abortion.
“Encouraging women to not complete the regimen should be considered experimental,” said Dr. Mitchell Creinin, the lead researcher on the UC Davis study. “We have some evidence that it could cause very significant bleeding. It’s not that medical abortion is dangerous. It’s not completing the regimen, and encouraging women, leading them to believe that not finishing the regimen is safe. That’s really dangerous.”
This should be greatly concerning to anyone that cares about women’s health. Eight states—five within the past year—have enacted laws forcing abortion providers to tell patients that the process of medication abortion can be negated after taking the first pill despite Abortion Pill Reversal being largely unproven and not FDA approved. These states along with antiabortion supporters that truly believe APR works are putting women’s health at great risk by telling them they can stop their medication abortion halfway, which potentially carries high risk of hemorrhaging, and reverse their abortion with an experimental and possibly unsafe treatment that may not even work.