Law requiring abortion providers to notify patients of 'abortion pill reversal' causes controversy

by Kimberly Pennington, National Correspondent |

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Christian Examiner) – A new "abortion pill" that overturns the effects of RU-486 -- a controversial drug approved by the FDA to induce non-surgical abortions -- is at the center of debate as an Arizona law set to take effect in July will require abortion providers to inform patients of its existence.

"Any woman who takes mifepristone RU-486 has the right to know that if she changes her mind that there's a safe and effective way to reverse the effects of that abortion pill," Dr. George Delgado told Phoenix NBC Affiliate KPNX Channel 12.

Any woman who takes mifepristone RU-486 has the right to know that if she changes her mind that there's a safe and effective way to reverse the effects of that abortion pill.

Delgado, Medical Director of San Diego's Culture of Life Family Services, was in town June 9 to speak at a conference sponsored by First Way Pregnancy Center.

The doctor began to develop what he dubs the "abortion pill reversal" in 2009 when thinking about the frequency with which he used the hormone progesterone to prevent miscarriages in his patients, he told colleagues at the 2015 American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists Conference, according to National Right to Life News Today.

A call from a sidewalk counselor in El Paso, Texas who encountered a woman regretting her choice to take RU-486 prompted Delgado initially to think about the possibility of reversing abortions.

Progesterone nourishes the placenta, keeps the cervix closed, and inhibits contractions during pregnancy. RU-486 binds with progesterone receptors in the body, interfering with progesterone's natural ability to work. "I thought, well, maybe we can out-compete [mifepristone] at the receptor [using progesterone]," Delgado said.

Because mifepristone alone sometimes does not work completely, patients receive the drug misoprostol two days later to complete the abortion.

This gives physicians a two-day window, Delgado said, to intervene with progesterone therapy to counteract the effects of mifepristone and reverse the abortion.

Delgado reports that more than 100 healthy births have occurred as a result of his abortion reversal treatment, and he has approximately 235 physicians in his Abortion Pill Reversal network who are willing to treat patients with this off-label use of progesterone.

However, most professional medical associations such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have not endorsed his work.

A small group of protestors gathered Monday night across from the Catholic Diocese where Delgado spoke.

Those who talked on camera spoke primarily against Arizona's new law SB1318 set to take effect July 1. The law would be the first-of-its-kind legislation in the nation to require abortion providers to inform their patients of the possibility of this RU-486 reversal procedure.

"Until we know that a procedure works, we shouldn't mandate our doctors to tell women this information," an unnamed female told reporters.

Delgado has emphasized the network of doctors already using progesterone in this way – and said currently patients receive sonograms to check for fetal viability and are informed of potential side effects despite the fact this treatment has not been approved by the FDA.