Pro-abortion groups this week asked a federal judge to block a new law in Indiana, set to take effect this summer, which would require doctors to inform women taking the “abortion pill” that it is possible for the effects of the first drug in the regimen to be reversed. 

In a lawsuit filed May 18 in the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, several pro-abortion advocacy groups, including Planned Parenthood, asked a judge to block the law, which was signed into law last month and is set to take effect in July. 

Medical abortions, procured by way of a two-drug abortion pill regimen, have become an increasingly common method of abortion in the United States, making up 30-40 percent of all abortions. The method accounted for nearly half of all abortions performed in Indiana in 2019, acccording to state statistics. 

The two drugs involved are mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone effectively starves the unborn baby by blocking the effects of the pregnancy hormone progesterone. The second drug, misoprostol, is taken up to two days later and induces labor.

The Indiana law would require doctors to inform women that it is possible to halt the medication abortion process if the woman changes her mind after taking the first pill. The reversal process entails emergency, ongoing doses of progesterone for the mother. 

Six states have already passed similar laws, while the laws in three states— North Dakota, Tennessee, and Oklahoma— are on hold because of legal challenges, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. 

The Indiana law would also ban the ordering of medication abortions via telemedicine. While U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules require the first drug to be dispensed in clinics or hospitals by doctors or other medical providers who are specially certified, they do not require that providers see patients in person. As a result, some clinics allow women to consult via video.

The groups proffering the lawsuit argue that the law forces doctors to relay “a bogus claim that may lead some patients to have an abortion based on the mistaken belief that they can later undo its effects.” The plaintiffs assert that there exists “no credible or reliable scientific evidence” that the effects of mifepristone can be reversed. 

However, the pro-life group Heartbeat International has documented numerous cases of successful abortion pill reversals resulting in healthy babies being born. 

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The Abortion Pill Rescue Network, a coalition of 800 medical providers across the country and a project of HBI, says that from 2019 to 2020, the number of abortion pill reversal starts increased 91% and that about 150 women now begin the protocol every month.

“Some would like to promote the lie that women who choose abortion no longer have choices, but that simply isn’t true,” said Christa Brown, Director of Medical Impact at Heartbeat International, in a statement to CNA. 

“A well-established, evidence-based treatment exists to reverse mifepristone abortion, and this is not new. This treatment has been used by physicians throughout the world since the 1950s to safely sustain pregnancies and treat pregnancy complications.”

A study published in 2018 in Issues in Law and Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal affiliated with the pro-life organization Watson Bowes Research Institute, examined 261 successful abortion pill reversals, and showed that the reversal success rates were 68 percent with a high-dose oral progesterone protocol and 64 percent with an injected progesterone protocol.

Dr. Mary Davenport and Dr. George Delgado, who have been studying the abortion pill reversal procedures since 2009, authored the study. Delgado sits on the board of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and co-founded the Abortion Pill Rescue Network. 

Delgado told the Washington Post that he believed more research should be done on abortion pill reversal, but that he believes there should be nothing to stop doctors from using the progesterone protocol in the meantime.

“[T]he science is good enough that, since we have no alternative therapy and we know it's safe, we should go with it,” he said.

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The director of a women’s clinic in Denver told CNA in April 2018 that she has found the abortion pill reversal protocol to be safe and effective with her patients, and her clinic has successfully treated several women who come in seeking a reversal after taking the first pill.

“I think the fact that we have now over 300 successful reversals is evidence that it works,” nurse practitioner Dede Chism, co-founder and executive director of Bella Natural Women’s Care in Englewood, CO, told CNA at the time.

The progesterone protocol is safe, Chism said, because it is a naturally occurring hormone in pregnant women that has been used for the treatment of pregnant women in various situations.

“This isn’t make-believe and it isn’t coincidental,” she commented. 

Disclaimer: CNA’s Executive Director, Alejandro Bermúdez, is a board member of Heartbeat International.