Is It Possible To Reverse An Abortion? We Spoke To Two Doctors About Arizona's New Law

Women have the right to know the facts.

Arizona is a state with fairly hefty restrictions surrounding abortion access: Women are required to have an ultrasound at least 24 hours before they have their abortion, insurance plans will only cover costs if the pregnancy threatens the life of the woman, and a patient must receive in-person counseling including information discouraging her from having the procedure all together.

And earlier this week, Arizona became the first state to pass a law requiring doctors to tell their patients about controversial research that says drug-induced abortions may be reversible.

In a statement to the New York Times, the president of the Center for Arizona Policy (a conservative organization that pushed for the law) said: “It’s tragic when a woman makes a decision to have an abortion without knowing all the facts. We know children have been born. We know women have been spared the heartache of abortion. There’s no downside to this. Where’s the harm in informing a woman that it could be reversible?”

As a result of this new law, anti-abortion activists are celebrating the chance for women to “change their minds” and carry the pregnancy to term.



However, Dr. Daniel Grossman, an experienced obstetrician and Vice President of Research at Ibis Reproductive Health, told MTV News that a woman choosing to "reverse" or "changing her mind" about an abortion is highly unlikely.

"The important thing to recognize is that it's very, very, very rare for a woman to change her mind [about having an abortion]," Dr. Grossman said. "They think through these decisions very thoroughly before they even make an appointment. This isn't something women take lightly."

A medical abortion is designed for women who are less than two months pregnant. It's a process that involves first taking the drug mifepristone, and then 48 hours later, receiving the drug misoprostol.

According to "reversal procedure" advocates at the Culture of Life Family Services Abortion Pill Reversal Team, the "reversal" can happen when the two-step process of a medical abortion is interrupted with injections of the steroid progesterone, before the woman would have received the misoprostol.

The theory for this procedure comes from a 2012 study by Dr. George Delgado which documented 6 women who took mifepristone and then had a series of progesterone injections within 24 hours instead of taking the misoprostol. 4 of the 6 women were able to carry their pregnancies to term after this procedure.

Dr. Delgado, the director of Abortion Pill Reversal is also a board-certified family medicine physician. He told MTV News a little more about his research, saying that the hormones in the procedure can be imagined as "a key fitting into a lock" -- while the mifepristone is a "false key" blocking the production of the body's natural progesterone, the progesterone used in the injections can "reverse the effect" if injected in a timely manner.

Once he began using this procedure, he says he has seen multiple cases (about 60 percent) of women carrying their pregnancies to term without birth defects — 89 births with approximately 75 women still pregnant but appearing "to be doing very well."

According to Dr. Delgado, who plans to publish another paper on the subject once their case study reaches 100 to 200 deliveries, the Arizona law will benefit women, as they get to hear about another option they may not have considered.

"I think that abortion pill reversal is an effective and safe procedure," said Dr. Delgado. "I think women have the right to know about this second chance."



However, Dr. Grossman and a large contingent of the medical community, including the American Congress of Gynecologists and Obstetricians remain skeptical, arguing that despite this study, there is not enough evidence to show the reversal actually worked.

Dr. Grossman adds that for a procedure to be accepted fully by the medical community, there would have to be a more thorough and rigorous research process than a single case study, and that the research would have to have been monitored and overseen by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) or ethical review board to ensure everything was done in the right conditions.

"The [Arizona] law is, to put it bluntly, kind of crazy," Dr. Grossman told MTV News. "It's politicians forcing doctors to say something that isn't medically accurate."

This law is Part of a larger piece of legislation (Senate Bill 1318), which also prevents women from using private funds to purchase insurance coverage for abortion health care and requires survivors of violence to prove that they are victims of rape or incest to obtain insurance coverage.

Jodi Liggett, Public Policy Director at Planned Parenthood told MTV News that the bill passed while "flying under the radar" in what was a very "contentious" session and that Planned Parenthood and their allies in the medical community are pursuing legal action to get this law thrown out.

“This bill takes the trust a woman has in her physician and preys on that trust when she is most vulnerable,” said Liggett. “... Politicians are not physicians. Americans have been loud and clear about how they do not want politicians interfering in their health care. We, and more importantly our doctors, are horrified. This is not how you proceed in patient care. We're really disappointed, and we think this verges on requiring our physicians to commit malpractice by compelling them to talk about this unproven protocol."

Dr. Grossman adds that, as a physician, he couldn't tell patients this procedure had any validity due to the lack research. "It would be medically wrong to say that."

MTV News has reached out to The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Pro-Life Arizona, but we have not heard back at this time.