Progesterone is the hormone that sustains pregnancy, and mifepristone is designed to block it, effectively starving the baby. The second pill in the abortion pill regimen, misoprostol, induces labor.
The General Medical Council (GMC), which licenses and regulates UK doctors, had been investigating the safety of the abortion pill reversal (APR) treatment following a complaint from Jonathan Lord, director of MSI Reproductive Choices, an abortion provider. Lord had objected that progesterone is not licensed for this use, and that there is “no evidence this treatment works and there is some evidence it may even be harmful.”
Kearney, a cardiologist and former President of the Catholic Medical Association (UK), had since June 2020 been calling in prescriptions for the treatment for UK women who requested it through Heartbeat International, a longstanding network of pro-life pregnancy assistance.
The GMC’s investigation, conducted by an impartial expert, found that APR treatment does not increase the risk of harm to an unborn baby, and that although some women who receive APR treatment reported bleeding, that was likely due to the effects of the abortion drug, and not the APR treatment itself.
Anecdotal reports of the treatment’s success are widespread, but abortion pill reversal has not been widely studied in clinical settings. For empirical evidence of its effectiveness, supporters often point to a 2018 study in the journal Issues in Law and Medicine.
In observations of 754 patients who sought abortion pill reversal before taking the second drug, the researchers said that intramuscular progesterone had a reversal rate of 64% and high dose oral progesterone had a reversal rate of 68%, when administered within 72 hours of taking the first pill. The baby could be expected to survive in only about 25% of cases after a mother takes mifepristone, the study says.