Republican lawmakers in several states have passed legislation requiring that women seeking medication abortions be given information suggesting the procedure can be stopped midway through, allowing the pregnancy to continue — but this is highly misleading and dangerous counsel, according to experts.
The Washington Post reported that researchers who attempted to study whether a medication abortion could be successfully stopped and a pregancy allowed to continue almost immediately ran into problems.
Some of the women participating in the study experienced dangerous bleeding, the Post reported, requiring immediate medical attention.
The study was conducted earlier this year by Mitchell D. Creinin, an OB/GYN at the University of California at Davis Health, alongside colleagues, Melissa J. Chen, Melody Y. Hou, Laura Dalton and Rachel Steward.
Creinin said the study showed that laws pushing women to have so-called “abortion reversals” are dangerous and added that “states are encouraging women to participate in an unmonitored experiment.”
A medication abortion is performed within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, the Post noted, and it involves to pills: mifepristone, which “loosens the pregnancy’s attachment to the uterus”; and misoprostol, which “forces the uterus to contract to push out the pregnancy.”
The medications must be taken consecutively in order for the abortion to be complete, meaning there is a chance the pregnancy will continue if the second pill is skipped.
The argument made by some pro-life activists and lawmakers is that by either not taking the second pill, or by administering high doses of the hormone progesterone after taking the first pill, a medication abortion can be reversed.
However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists unequivocally notes that “claims regarding abortion ‘reversal’ treatment are not based on science and do not meet clinical standards.”
Nevertheless, abortion reversal legislation has been introduced, passed and signed by governors in North Dakota, Idaho, Utah, South Dakota, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arkansas, the Post reported, with laws currently blocked or enjoined in Oklahoma and North Dakota as well.
Given that such laws are being passed and reliable research on the potential for reversing a medication abortion is nonexistent, Creinin and his colleagues set out to design “a legitimate double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial that aimed to observe 40 volunteers who had already elected to have a surgical abortion.”
With only 12 women enrolled in the study, the researchers had to pull the plug after three of the women experienced serious hemorrhaging.
The Post explained:
Bleeding is normal during a medication abortion. But three of the women who enrolled in the UC-Davis study experienced far more serious bleeding than anyone could have anticipated when the second pill was not administered.
One woman “was so scared she called an ambulance,” while another woman startled by the amount of blood “called 911 and crawled into her bathtub,” Creinin said. A third woman who went to the emergency room needed a transfusion. One of the women had received a placebo, while two others had taken the progesterone.
Because it was clear that the research could not be conducted safely, the researchers ended the study, leaving open the question of whether a medication abortion can be safely reversed.
“What the results do show, though, is that there’s a very significant safety signal” when it comes to disrupting the approved medication abortion protocol, Creinin said.