Opposing Medical Views On Effectiveness Of Abortion Reversal Bill

By Alexandra Olgin
Published: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 5:25pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 5:26pm
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Governor Doug Ducey has signed a bill that limits insurance coverage of abortion procedures. The law requires doctors to inform patients there is a possibility of reversing the effects of what is known as a medication abortion.

To get a medication abortion, a woman takes two pills. The first, mifepristone, blocks the hormone progesterone which is essential early in pregnancy. The second, misoprostol, completes the abortion by terminating the pregnancy.

Dr. George Delgado of San Diego published a paper in 2012 in the journal The Annals of Pharmacotherapy describing what he called abortion reversals. The study cites six patients who changed their mind between the first pill and the second and so they were given high doses of progesterone after taking the first pill. Four women continued with their pregnancies, and in the other two patients the first pill alone caused the abortion. Delgado said since that study, he has assisted in more successful abortion reversals.

“We have tracked 87 births and another 75 or so are currently pregnant," he said. "We’re planning that when we get somewhere between 150 and 200 births we will submit another paper for publication.”

Delgado is part of a network of at least 270 doctors around the country who perform the reversals. Here in Phoenix, Dr. Gabrielle Goodrick has been providing medication abortions for 15 years. She said she has provided about 7,000 patients with a medication abortion and has doubts the reversal hormones actually work.

“There have been no large studies, no endorsement of this, no medical evidence showing the dose that would be needed or that it actually works," she said. "You are dealing with something [mifeprestone] that 40 percent of the time doesn’t end the pregnancy.”

Goodrick said doing nothing after taking the first pill is possibly as effective as the progesterone injections themselves and she’s concerned about informing patients of a procedure that has not been widely tested.

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