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Researchers halt "abortion reversal" pill study after 3 women end up in the ER

In the continued battle for reproductive justice, fighting misinformation is key. Across the country, Republican-controlled state legislatures and crisis pregnancy centers are touting a supposed "abortion reversal" pill. But recently, researchers stopped a study looking into the drug because the process was proving dangerous for patients, Mother Jones reported. Not only did the people testing the pill risk severe hemorrhage, but there additionally is nothing to suggest the treatment even works.

Those touting so-called reversal pills claim that if a patient takes the hormone progesterone after ingesting the first of two pills required to trigger a medically induced abortion, the abortion can be halted. Researchers at the University of California at Davis decided to investigate these claims with a study published recently in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Researchers planned to enroll 40 patients into the study. However, the study was halted in July after working with only 12 patients due to "safety concerns". Three of the women involved were taken to the hospital due to severe vaginal bleeding. The researchers concluded that "patients in early pregnancy who use only mifepristone," the medication included in the first pill for a medically induced abortion, "may be at high risk of significant hemorrhage."

Although the study was unable to definitively determine if progesterone reverses abortions, Daniel Grossman, an OB-GYN and a research director at the University of California at San Francisco, told Vox, "All of the evidence that we have so far indicates that this treatment is not effective."

The idea of using progesterone to reverse abortions can be traced back to Dr. George Delgado, a family medicine physician who identifies as pro-life. In 2012, Delgado published a paper claiming to have reversed the abortions of six women who received a medication abortion. But in 2017, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a fact sheet stating that Delgado's paper was "not scientific evidence that progesterone resulted in the continuation of those pregnancies."

"This study was not supervised by an institutional review board or an ethical review committee, required to protect human research subjects, raising serious concerns regarding the ethics and scientific validity of the results," the AGOC continued.

Despite the fact that abortion reversal pills have no real medical backing, many states continue to push them. According to Mother Jones, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Utah have “compelled speech” laws requiring abortion providers to inform patients that abortions can be reversed.

There is a clear alarming pattern of late of lawmakers passing legislation to restrict abortions that is not based in facts. Recently, Ohio passed a life-threatening bill requiring doctors to "reimplant ectopic pregnancy", a procedure that is impossible. In Pennsylvania, state lawmakers voted through a bill that requires cremation or burial for fetal remains, a backdoor way to possibly increase the cost of abortions or make them more difficult for medical facilities to provide.

At the end of the day, abortion is a medical procedure. Drafting bills that have no scientific basis can prove life-threatening. With the recent rise of restrictive laws, it remains to be seen whether politicians will be held accountable for their part in essentially legislating harmful and inaccurate information.