Pregnant women who start the medical-abortion process — and change their minds — may still be able to save their unborn babies, pro-life doctors and a Catholic advocacy group said Monday.
Already, 78 healthy children have been born even though their mothers took the first of two pills aimed at terminating their pregnancies; another 49 pregnancies are progressing, said doctors with the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG).
This new “abortion-pill reversal” process should be able to “reach many people and save many lives,” the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, told the Monday press conference at the National Press Club in the District.
The abortion-pill reversal process requires multiple shots of progesterone, both immediately after taking RU-486 and then regularly for several weeks, to counteract the abortion pill’s effects, said Dr. Mary L. Davenport, a San Francisco-based member of AAPLOG, who has helped with five reversals.
The unborn baby must still have a heartbeat to begin the process.
These groups released an “Emergency Abortion Pill Reversal Kit,” which contains instructions and paperwork on how to reverse the medical abortion.
The kits do not contain the all-important injectable progesterone. But it is hoped that doctors — especially those in crisis pregnancy centers and emergency rooms — will stock up on the hormone so they can be ready to immediately serve pregnant women who come in seeking help.
Already, hundreds of women have called a hotline, 1-877-558-0333, for advice and referrals, said Dr. George Delgado, medical director of the Culture of Life Family Health Care and co-author of a December 2012 study on the reversal process with Dr. Davenport.
Medical abortions — now common for ending early pregnancies — are generally a two-pill process: RU-486 or mifepristone is taken to block progesterone and cause the pregnancy to die. A second pill, known as misoprostol, is taken a day or two later to cause uterine contractions that expel the dead fetus.
The emergency progesterone injections are intended to counteract the RU-486, said Dr. Matthew Harrison, a family practice doctor near Charlotte, North Carolina.
In 2006, he said, a “brave young mother” came to him desperate to save her child. After prayer and research, they agreed to try the progesterone shots. The baby girl is now 8 years old and perfectly healthy, Dr. Harrison said, noting that there is no evidence progesterone shots harm children or cause premature births.
Not all pregnancies can be saved: Between May 2012 and December 2014, doctors attempted 223 reversals, but lost 96 pregnancies.
Among the 78 children born after an abortion-pill reversal is 8-week-old Gabriel Caicedo, who attended Monday’s press conference with his parents, Chris Caicedo and Andrea Minichini, and grandparents Anthony and Lucy Busa.
Last year, Ms. Minichini said she and Chris were in a New Jersey abortion clinic, sitting with an abortion pill in her hand. The couple felt that, at age 22, they were too young. The abortion doctor insisted she take the mifepristone pill in front of him.
She instantly knew it was a mistake, and tried to vomit up the pill when she reached the parking lot. She and her mother then fought to find anyone who could stop the abortion — which led to them to an internet search and a doctor who knew about abortion-pill reversal.
“It is very special to have Gabriel in our lives,” Mr. Caicedo said Monday as he cradled his son. “He’s become the light of our life,” said Ms. Minichini.