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Abortion pill reversal is a ‘second chance at choice’

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In 2009, Dr. George Delgado received a call that would change his life. The call was about a woman who had taken the abortion pill but now wanted her unborn baby to live. The sidewalk counselor on the other end of the line wanted to know, did the doctor have a way to save the woman’s pregnancy?

Delgado shared his story of creating an abortion pill reversal network at an event hosted by Divine Mercy Care, the education arm of Tepeyac OB/GYN, at St. Veronica Church in Chantilly March 20.

In the United States, around 30 to 45 percent of all abortions, or 300,000 to 450,000 every year, are medical or chemical abortions, said Delgado. Typically, a pregnant woman wanting to abort in the early stages of pregnancy will swallow a mifepristone pill, which loosens the placenta from the walls of the uterus, cutting off the embryo’s source of nutrition. Twenty-four to 72 hours later, she’ll take a second pill — misoprostol — which induces contractions to expel the contents of the uterus.

In between the first and second pill is a window of opportunity, said Delgado, “a second chance at choice.” But he didn’t realize it until he received that call. He knew mifepristone worked to block progesterone receptors and he knew through his work with NaProTechnology, a reproductive healthcare approach, that progesterone is prescribed to help women likely to miscarry.

“It was one of those Holy Spirit moments where he put two and two together in my mind,” said Delgado. “I thought, maybe if we give her extra progesterone we can save the baby.”

Delgado called a doctor who lived near the woman in El Paso, Texas, to facilitate the needed prescription of progesterone. “I knew progesterone was safe, so I thought, well, it’s worth a try,” said Delgado. “In fact, in vitro fertilization doctors routinely put all of their pregnant women on progesterone to prevent miscarriage.”

Months later, the woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Delgado has a picture of the mother and daughter in his office. With the help of the sidewalk counselor who first called Delgado, word about the abortion pill reversal began to spread. He and others set up a website, Abortion Pill Rescue, and a hotline, which directs a caller to the closest healthcare center that offers abortion pill reversals, such as Tepeyac. On the organization’s board of directors is Dr. Matt Harrison, who performed the first recorded mifepristone reversal in 2007. Delgado learned of Harrison’s work when writing his first article on the subject, and the men now collaborate.

In many cases, the network has saved lives. “We’ve documented more than 500 women who have given birth after successful mifepristone reversals. We’re very excited about that,” said Delgado. “Our success rates with our best protocol are 64-68 percent. We have no increased risk of birth defects.” They’ve helped women in 45 states and 13 countries.

Delgado also created the Steno Institute to further research the effectiveness of their current protocols and possible antidotes to the second drug, misoprostol, and other abortion-inducing pharmaceuticals. “Our vision is to become a provider of excellence in pro-life research and to bring pro-life values and evidence into the public square,” he said.

He and the other doctors involved have been criticized by pro-choicers and some in the medical community who believe women don’t regret having an abortion. Delgado looked out at the crowd. “How many of you consider yourself pretty prudent decision-makers? How many of you have ever made a really big decision in your life and then changed your mind?” he said. Many hands were raised.

“Planned Parenthood and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that women rarely, if ever, change their minds. They say that by offering abortion pill reversal, we’re imposing guilt,” said Delgado. “What they’re saying is that they think they know better what’s best for these women than women do themselves. If they only want one choice, maybe they’re not pro-choice — maybe they’re just pro-abortion.”

The hundreds of women who have called into the hotline show women can and do change their minds, he said. “Women are very, very happy to have that opportunity to reverse mifepristone.” 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019

@ZoeyMaraistACH