In this final installment in Americans United for Life’s series, “(Un)Happy Birthday, Chemical Abortion,” we address the abortion industry’s ultimate argument – that chemical abortion is a one-way process, and “Once started, chemical abortion can’t be stopped.”

            We know that some women regret taking mifepristone to end a pregnancy and desire a way to rescue the embryo. One study of experience with chemical abortion related that it is “not a matter of course for a woman’s decision to be absolute when she arrives at the clinic. Health personnel have learned that the decision to terminate a pregnancy might be challenging and that some women may change their minds.” Workers in that study related examples of women ingesting the medication and then immediately attempt to make themselves vomit. Thankfully, there is a chemical abortion “reversal” process that is based on well-established medical science and is safe for women. Our friends at Abortion Pill Rescue have helped hundreds of mothers choose life for their babies, even after taking mifepristone, and connected them to a network of caring doctors and nurses who are ready and able to help women who face these circumstances.

            How mifepristone works is undisputed. After an embryo has implanted in a woman’s uterus, further development of the embryo is dependent upon progesterone. Without progesterone, the embryo will starve and die. Mifepristone, however, is a synthetic anti-progesterone steroid that works by blocking progesterone receptors. It competes with the natural progesterone produced by the woman’s body to fill specific receptors in the mother’s ovary (which makes the progesterone needed to sustain the pregnancy) and in the womb (which holds the embryo). Both the mifepristone molecule and the progesterone molecule will bind and release at a particular site, but the mifepristone molecule binds more tightly to the receptor, thereby blocking progesterone and causing the embryo to starve and die.

Understanding the science behind the mechanism of action of mifepristone allows physicians to design a specific “reversal” for a woman who has ingested mifepristone, but not yet misoprostol. Because physicians know exactly how mifepristone works, physicians know that an increased concentration of progesterone can displace mifepristone from the progesterone receptors. This allows the woman’s body to respond to natural progesterone and to effectively fight the effects of the mifepristone blockage. This is a basic principle of reversible competitive binding of drugs to receptor sites and is a foundational concept in drug development. Similar well-established medical techniques are used to treat Luteal Phase Defect, a fertility problem, and for “leucovorin rescue” from the effects of methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug. This is an evidence-based procedure that is not new at all – it’s been utilized in analogous pregnancy conditions for over four decades.

Not only is progesterone undisputedly safe in pregnancy, but it is routinely used to protect pregnancies or treat related complications. For example, progesterone has been used for decades to help prevent preterm birth. Similarly, with the advent of in vitro fertilization, progesterone has been used for women with low estrogen production after transfer of an embryo. In addition, when an ovary has to be removed early in pregnancy (such as when a woman suffers from ovarian torsion), physicians sustain that pregnancy by providing progesterone.

            The abortion industry would like to perpetuate the myth that chemical abortion is a one-way street, but that simply isn’t true. A well-established, evidence-based natural hormonal therapy exists to turn back the artificial chemical process of mifepristone abortion – if done in time.