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Abortion pill reversal explains why life-saving technique isn’t ‘junk science’

One of the founders described to Jonathan Van Maren how the technique 'makes logical biological sense.'
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Culture of Life Family Services
Calvin Freiburger By Calvin Freiburger

Calvin Freiburger By Calvin Freiburger

December 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The abortion lobby regularly attacks the practice abortion pill reversal as “junk science,” but one of the doctors who pioneered the technique recently explained why it’s anything but.

The abortion pill mifepristone (better known as RU-486) works by blocking the natural hormone progesterone that developing babies require to survive. Abortion pill reversal consists of administering extra progesterone to counteract mifepristone’s effects, ideally within 24 hours of taking the abortion pill. Its pioneers credit it with helping more than 400 women save their babies since 2007.

This week, Jonathon Van Maren interviewed Dr. Matthew Harrison, who along with Dr. George Delgado pioneered the technique. During the conversation, Harrison addressed the “junk science” talking point at length.

“A real scientist understands that new medications and new protocols come into being many times through accidents, but they have to have some type of biological sense,” he explained. Using progesterone to counteract RU-486 is based on the “well established” model of how substrate receptors work in the body and “makes logical biological sense.”

“Second, we have to see if there are animal models that reproduce this,” he continued, citing a Japanese study that gave RU-486 to rats, half of which also received progesterone. The vast majority of the group without abortion pill reversal lost their pups, but 80 percent successfully reversed the RU-486. Autopsies on the rats further confirmed that the two groups’ uterine linings were different, demonstrating that the “progesterone essentially nullified all the other effects of RU-486.”

Harrison then moved on to the subject of establishing new protocols with case studies. The lack of such studies for abortion pill reversal is the centerpiece of many pro-abortion arguments against it, but Harrison noted that “this is not something that you can control in an ethical way” because such case studies would require killing the babies of women in the group that received RU-486 but not progesterone, as well as risking lives in cases where reversal was attempted but ultimately failed.

“That's not ethical. And so it would be impossible to come up with the studies that apparently American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists want to come up with,” Harrison said.

The alternative is to continually collect data from women who have attempted reversal in real-world situations. Harrison acknowledged that the sample sizes of past studies have been small, but consistently reaffirm the practice nevertheless. “We keep seeing this number somewhere, right around 67 percent of women who take the protocol properly, who take the reversal medication properly, end up with healthy babies,” he said.

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