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Abortion pill reversal promises hope for unborn lives

The Nebraska Legislature adjourned sine die (meaning with no appointed date for resumption) on April 18. While I will comment further on the legislative session, for now I want to discuss another newsworthy matter – more to the point, a lifesaving matter.
 
On April 4, a new medical study authored by Drs. George Delgado and Mary Davenport was published, which analyzes outcomes of using progesterone to reverse RU-486 medication abortions (see issuesinlawandmedicine.com/Delgado-Article). This study is an important step forward in validating the “abortion pill reversal” method that has already saved the lives of hundreds of unborn children.
 
Some background on RU-486 medical abortions: Planned Parenthood acknowledges two general forms of abortion: 1) in-clinic abortion, and 2) medication abortion, also known as the “abortion pill.” An in-clinic abortion typically refers to surgical abortions, such as D&C or D&E (dismemberment) abortions.
 
HOW RU-486 WORKS
The abortion pill is also known as RU-486 or, by its generic name, mifepristone, and can be taken up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy. Mifepristone is an artificial steroid that disrupts progesterone levels. Progesterone is a hormone that is critical for early stages of pregnancy and helps build the uterine lining to create a supportive environment for the unborn human being. Progesterone also represses uterine contractions, which could cause miscarriage. 
 
Mifepristone fills chemical receptor sites that are normally reserved for progesterone. This leads a woman’s body to cease preparation of the uterus for the baby and return instead to normal menstrual processes. The result is the unborn child lacks the necessary nutrients for survival.
 
To further ensure an abortion, RU-486 is accompanied by a second drug, misoprostol, which is a prostaglandin. Misoprostol creates powerful uterine contractions to dispel the unborn child. Misoprostol is taken a couple of days after RU-486 is consumed. Where mifepristone alone is taken, and not misoprostol, recent studies indicate that the unborn child will survive 8 to 25 percent of pregnancies.
 
EFFECTIVENESS AND USE
Two weeks after RU-486 and misoprostol have been consumed, the mother has a follow-up examination to ensure the abortion is complete. If not, abortionists will suggest a surgical abortion since an incomplete abortion could lead to giving birth to a child injured by this combination of abortion drugs.
 
Notably, RU-486 is not the same as the “morning after pill,” which acts as an “emergency contraception” and, sometimes, an abortifacient.
 
In 2016, RU-486 became the abortion method used in the majority of abortions in Nebraska. For historical perspective, a decade ago less than 2 percent of abortions in Nebraska were induced through medication. In short, medication abortions have substantially increased in recent years.
 
More information about the abortion pill can be found at the National Right to Life website (www.nrlc.org/site/abortion/RU486). 
 
ABORTION PILL REVERSAL
The abortion pill reversal method works by substantially re-increasing progesterone levels, which have been suppressed by mifepristone in a pregnant woman’s body. In effect, the increased progesterone levels are intended to drown out the mifepristone in the chemical receptor sites intended for progesterone. Progesterone is thereby restored to a level sufficient to continue providing the unborn child with nourishment, in the hope of reviving the pregnancy to normalcy.
 
The Delgado study begins by recognizing a very basic fact: Some women who take RU-486 change their minds before taking the second pill and seek to reverse the process. The study analyzes those women who sought to reverse the process to determine if it was effective. The study observes 754 mothers who attempted the reversal process. 
 
Ultimately, the study finds that progesterone injected muscularly or high-dose progesterone taken by mouth were the most effective at reversing the RU-486 abortion process. These methods had success rates of 64 percent and 68 percent, respectively, which are significantly higher than the 8-to-25 percent survival rate for a child whose mother takes RU-486 alone. The study also notes that the reversal was done without any apparent increased risk of birth defects, meaning that the process is safe and effective.
 
There will be more to come from this study. But for now, pray to God that this study will help save the lives of many more unborn children. And pray especially that mothers gain increased access to this life-changing treatment.
 
Tom Venzor is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, with headquarters in Lincoln. Contact him at tvenzor@necatholic.

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