Contrary To Media Reports, New Abortion Pill Study Finds It Endangers Women And Reversal Works

Contrary To Media Reports, New Abortion Pill Study Finds It Endangers Women And Reversal Works

The authors of a new study continue promulgating misleading information about the real risks of the abortion pill regimen, instead of emphasizing the safety of using progesterone to try to reverse Mifeprex's effects.
Tara Sander Lee and Michael Valley
By

If you have read the headlines about a recent abortion pill study led by Dr. Mitchell Creinin, you would think the attempted reversal of abortion was to blame for some horrific outcomes. The truth is the opposite.

Blaming women’s injuries on the reversal process, rather than on the abortion pills themselves, is how pro-abortion researchers are spinning the results. In a predictably biased attempt to play the American public — especially women — pro-abortion researchers peddled their side of the story and found a willing audience in many media outlets. Take the following examples:

  • “Researchers Tried to Test ‘Abortion Reversal.’ 3 Women Wound Up in the Hospital” from The Cut.
  • “The First Study on ‘Abortion Reversal’ Landed Three Women in the ER” from Vice.
  • “Safety Problems Lead to Early End for Study of ‘Abortion Pill Reversal’” from NPR.

If this sounds like “fake news,” that’s because it is.

The abortion pill regimen — also called “chemical abortion — causes death in an unborn child. It consists of a two-drug sequence that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved for use by women who are no more than 10 weeks pregnant. First, women take mifepristone, which essentially starves the baby of nutrients. After a brief period, women then take misoprostol, which induces contractions to expel the dead or dying child. Abortion pill reversal is attempted after the first drug, by returning normal nutrition to the baby through the use of the hormone progesterone.

The researchers conducting the “double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial” intended to enroll 40 women between 44 and 63 days gestation who were planning to undergo surgical abortion. Each woman would ingest the abortifacient Mifeprex (mifepristone) followed 24 hours later by either the reversal drug progesterone or a placebo, which they would continue to take daily until their scheduled surgical abortions 14-16 days after beginning the trial. The research team enrolled women from February to July 2019 but halted the study due to safety concerns after enrolling only 12 participants.

To clarify: The study was ended not because of attempted abortion pill (Mifeprex) reversal landing women in the hospital, but because of severe hemorrhaging in the women who did not take progesterone, the reversal medication. In fact, two out of five, or 40 percent, of women who took Mifeprex alone, and did not take progesterone, required emergency surgery, and one required a transfusion.

The other woman who bled had taken progesterone after taking the Mifeprex. But her bleeding stopped by itself, and she did not need surgery. There is no evidence the woman needed to be seen in the ER. Clearly, the women who did not take progesterone fared much worse than the women who did take it.

The researchers, who were forced to end the trial due to safety concerns, failed to admit those concerns were not in the patients who took progesterone, only the patients who did not, resulting in misleading media reports and scientific deceit.

Findings Of the Abortion Pill Reversal Study

Let’s look at the actual reported results.

In the five women who took Mifeprex with no progesterone, two had massive hemorrhages requiring emergency surgery, and one needed a blood transfusion. Of the remaining three, two had a baby with a heartbeat at the two-week check-up visit. That’s a 40 percent survival rate at two weeks with Mifeprex alone.

In the five women who took Mifeprex with progesterone — in other words, attempted an abortion pill reversal — one lost her baby and experienced heavy bleeding, which stopped by itself. She went to the ER but had no need for surgery or other treatment.

But the most remarkable finding is that four of the five women who took progesterone had living babies at their two-week follow-up. That’s an 80 percent success rate!

The authors use hyperbole, reporting that even with progesterone treatment, “severe hemorrhage” can occur. Yet the one woman who took progesterone and had bleeding did not require treatment. By spinning their results and not reporting that the safety concerns were only in the Mifeprex-alone group, the authors completely misrepresent the safety of administering progesterone.

The Study’s Authors Misrepresent Their Findings

Long before this study was published, it was known that Mifeprex can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections, excessive bleeding, and incomplete abortion requiring emergency surgery. In fact, these complications happen even after the second abortifacient drug, misoprostol, is taken. Most of the women who have needed transfusions after taking Mifeprex have also taken misoprostol. This study further illustrates these serious, life-threatening risks when taking the abortion pill.

Rather than focusing on the fact that the abortion pill has serious risks, the study authors and those reporting on the study attempt to mislead the public into believing that any attempt to reverse the abortion pill’s effect could be potentially more dangerous to the mother. In reality, the study showed that a fetal heartbeat was detected two weeks after taking the abortion pill in 80 percent of women who attempted to reverse the abortion pill by taking progesterone.

Indeed, these results were consistent with a 2018 study (George Delgado et al.) that had a 68 percent live birth rate after treatment with the same oral progesterone protocol used by Creinin et al. Both women who hemorrhaged while on the placebo instead of progesterone required emergency surgical abortion, but remarkably, the woman on progesterone did not require any additional intervention.

With this study, the authors continue promulgating misleading information about the real risks of the abortion pill regimen, instead of emphasizing the safety of using progesterone to try to reverse Mifeprex’s effects. This is not surprising.

Women Should Know Truth About Abortion Pill Reversal

Take a recent USA Today op-ed by a well-known abortion doctor and researcher, Daniel Grossman. He makes the abortion pill process sound so painless, so easy, and no more painful than a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, describing it as “simple” and with effects limited to “cramping, bleeding, and expulsion of the pregnancy.”

In reality, taking the abortion pill is not so simple and comes with many risks, as Creinin et al. demonstrated. Our federal government’s top doctors, scientists, and policymakers at the Food and Drug Administration have deemed the abortion pill so risky that the pill’s regimen is part of the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), which the FDA describes as a program required “for certain medications with serious safety concerns to help ensure the benefits of the medication outweigh its risks.”

But researchers like Creinin — and Grossman, who in his op-ed advocates for selling the abortion pill over the counter — along with others working in the abortion industry, don’t want the abortion pill on REMS. Instead, they want Mifeprex removed from the REMS list and made widely available. This would increase risks to women and does not reflect what the scientific community knows about the risks of attempting medical abortion.

Women deserve the truth about the potentially serious side effects of the abortion pill — from doctors, scientists, and the media.

Tara Sander Lee, Ph.D., has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Medical College of Wisconsin and is the Director of Life Sciences at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Michael Valley, M.D., practices Ob/Gyn in Minnesota and is board certified in Ob/Gyn and Urogynecology.

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